You’ve heard it from your mom. You’ve heard it from health and wellness gurus. And you’ve heard it from yourself each morning you wake up seemingly more exhausted than the night before. You’ve got to get your sleep situation sorted out.
If you’ve got less than stellar sleep habits, you aren’t alone. Many people find themselves doom-scrolling when they should be sleeping, only to regret it when their morning alarm buzzes. Many of us are logging fewer hours than our bodies would like.
Ready to stop the cycle of sleep deprivation? Here are eight tips to help you start a bedtime routine that’ll put you in dreamland in no time.
1. Create a Sanctuary
If your space isn’t one where you’d like to be, you’re not going to prioritize being in bed on time. That’s why the best way to kickstart your sleep makeover is to start by making your sleep space a sanctuary.
Before you go shopping, assess your bedroom. Do you have window coverings that allow you to black out the room? Do you have layered lighting that includes bedside lamps? Consider your ideal sleeping temperature, and if you need to add a fan or heater, do so.
Audit your bedding and determine whether you need new sheets or a pillow to be the most comfortable. Are your bedclothes up to snuff, or would adding silk pajamas lull you to sleep faster? Once you’ve adjusted everything to your perfect sleep scenario, you’re ready to tackle the harder tasks — your sleep habits.
2. Hack Your Schedule
Now it’s time to pull out your planner. To determine when you need to go to bed, identify your wake-up time and go back seven hours. Yes, seven hours. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults age 18-60 need seven or more hours of sleep each night. If your alarm goes off at 6 a.m., then you’ll need to be asleep at 11 p.m.
Since it’s unlikely you can fall asleep on command, it’s important to note how long your new routine will take. As you contemplate the steps of your new routine, consider how much time you’ll spend on each one. This way, you’ll be able to build your perfect prologue to sleep.
3. Identify, Then Avoid, Your Stressors
Sometimes, there are just things that stress us out. Pay attention to the activities or tasks that occur throughout your day and gauge how your body reacts.
Does the task of paying bills leave you tense? Then stay away from your checkbook or banking app near bedtime. If your work is particularly overwhelming right now, resist the urge to review tomorrow’s meeting schedule. Texting with friends is fun, but if you often end up in a gossip loop, save the drama for brunch. These simple adjustments will prevent you from getting wound up as you attempt to wind down for the day.
4. Set Tech Aside
We know you know, but it bears repeating — too much blue light is bad for you, especially before bed. Blue light’s superpower is to make you feel alert. Alertness is great in the daytime but counterproductive to your pursuit of a bedtime routine. Exposure to blue light before bedtime can also reduce your body’s ability to produce the sleep hormone melatonin.
Do your body a favor, and cut yourself off from all tech, including e-readers. Set your alarm on your phone and place it on the charger away from your bed. Be sure to turn on do-not-disturb mode at least an hour before your bedtime. And instead of scrolling through social media, consider the next tip.
5. Read Something That Makes You Happy
Love getting lost in a fantasy? Does your heart yearn for romance? Or is a cozy mystery your style? Reading can give your brain a break from the constant chores that surround you. So take at least 10 minutes before bed to lose yourself in the pages of a book.
It’s easy to integrate reading into your routine. Pick up a few books from your local library or bookseller and keep them next to your bed. After you’ve finished your hygiene tasks and skincare regimen, slip into the sheets and read a handful of pages. Your mind will be transported into a story and away from the busyness of your day.
6. Move Your Body
If you find that you get a jolt of energy before bedtime, there are creative ways to calm down. Stretching, completing a short yoga routine, or even a brief mediation can provide a low-impact release of pent-up energy.
To start, stand next to your bed and complete a few sun (moon?) salutations for a full-body stretch. Release the day’s tension and carefully roll your neck from side to side. Next, lightly tip your head to each side, bringing your ear toward your shoulder. Roll your shoulders back at least five times. Finish by stretching your shoulders down the length of your arms with your fingers outstretched.
In fewer than five minutes, you’ll feel more limber and relaxed. And chances are, you’ll find it easier to fall asleep after a pre-bed stretch session.
7. Delight Your Senses
Take a deep breath in. How does your room smell? What do you hear? Pay close attention to more than what you see. Consider what you smell, hear, feel, and even taste in your sanctuary. Here’s a list to get you started.
- Smell. Use an aromatherapy diffuser with calming lavender oil.
- Hear. Add a white noise machine featuring soothing sounds.
- Feel. Incorporate rich textures and fabrics like silk and faux fur into your bedding, sleepwear, and floor coverings.
- Taste. Stash alkaline water near your bedside.
- Sight. Keep lighting low and on/off switches near your bedside for practicality.
Enhancing your sensory experience should only take a few minutes each night. But the reward of your efforts can help your space feel calm and inviting.
8. Make Your Ritual Your Own
As you give these tips a try, be mindful of how each of them feels as a part of your routine. There’s no right way to get comfortable for bed — there’s just your right way.
After you’ve sampled the tips that interest you, plot out your pre-bedtime routine. Account for necessary activities like brushing your teeth, removing your contacts, and perhaps bathing. Fill in the space before and after those tasks for only the most calming additions. Once you’ve identified the most helpful steps and determined how long each will take, you’ll know exactly when to begin winding down.
Establishing a bedtime routine is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Prioritizing sleep gives your body and mind time to reset and prepare for the next day. With a restorative bedtime routine, you can lay your head on your pillow and truly rest each evening. In the morning, you’ll be more refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.