Far too many people struggle to go to sleep or enjoy a restful sleep. In fact, it’s such a common problem among Brits, that the NHS calls this “TATT” - an acronym that stands for tired all the time.
While many factors contribute to a good night’s sleep, your bedtime ritual lays the foundations. Here’s how to build a better bedtime routine as an adult.
Defining Bedtime Routines
Any activities you do regularly, during the last 30-60 minutes before you plan to sleep, count towards your bedtime routine.
The things many of us do during the last hour before sleep are not conducive to good sleep. We may be using our devices, watching TV, drinking alcoholic beverages, squeezing in some exercise, or worrying.
A successful bedtime routine, however, consists of calming activities that encourage melatonin production and promote sleep.
Why Bedtime Routines Matter
Your body uses the energy it builds up during sleep and disperses it throughout the day. Like a cycle, it then begins to wind down during the evening. To assist the cycle, you should be preparing for sleep 30 minutes to 1 hour before snoozing.
Calming activities help us distance ourselves from stressors. The time you spend on your bedtime routine gives your body and mind a chance to release tension and forget your troubles so you’re in a good, relaxed space for sleep.
Melatonin is the brain’s sleep hormone and is regulated by light. Our bodies produce less melatonin in the presence of light and more in dimmer or dark environments. A bedtime routine that reduces light will encourage the body to produce the melatonin it needs to help us sleep.
What To Include in Your Bedtime Ritual
Try to go to sleep around the same time every night. While there will sometimes be exceptions, a consistent schedule will help your mind and body prepare for sleep.
Avoid Blue Light
Phones, tablets, and TVs emit blue light that disrupts melatonin production. These devices confuse our brains into thinking it’s still daylight and that we don’t need as much melatonin as we really do. It’s actually night, and you’re about to go to sleep, but your brain’s running on daytime melatonin levels.
Experts suggest that you cut out all electronics during your bedtime routine. If you want to do this but you’re struggling with it, you can put your phone or whatever device you’re tempted to use out of reach or even in another room.
Be Kind To Your Tummy
What you eat and drink before bed can have an impact on your sleep. While you shouldn't eat straight before bed, it’s okay to eat or drink something light and healthy in the lead-up.
Calming, non-caffeinated teas can help you relax, or healthy foods high in melatonin like grapes, cherries, strawberries, oats, and nuts make excellent before bed snacks.
A Calming Activity
There are many calming activities that you can do to help your body wind down:
- Warm bath
- Listening to relaxing music
Preparing Your Space
Turn your sleeping space into a sleep haven. Ensure the temperature is one you feel comfortable in. Make the room darker. It’s wise to use blackout curtains if disturbing light comes into your room. Consider white noise to drown out disruptive noises and help you relax.
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