How To Create A Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Do you slumber like a grizzly bear who recently settled in for a long winter’s nap? If you’re like one-quarter of all Americans, you probably struggle with the occasional bout of insomnia. While a restless night here and there won’t hurt you much, frequently interrupted slumber can lead to long-term health woes. It can even make you more accident-prone. Here’s how to create a relaxing before-bed routine and get better sleep.
Keep a consistent schedule
How do you know what to do each day? You probably function most of your schedule according to your habits, from pouring your first cup of coffee to brushing your teeth after dinner.
Routine is key to creating and maintaining positive habits, and sleep hygiene is no exception. Set a regular bed and wake time and stick to it every day — yes, even on weekends. Doing so helps to harmonize your body’s circadian rhythms, making it more natural to fall under soon after your head hits the pillow.
Set the mood
You perform nearly any activity better when you establish the right mindset for it first — including sleep. Creating a nightly ritual helps to signal your body that it’s time to wind down and relax. If you struggle to get your Zzz’s, you might need to start anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes before bed, possibly longer.
Dim the lights in your apartment. You can invest in dimmer switches. Alternatively, electric candles and fairy lights create a dazzling evening wind-down ambiance that also encourages romance. Do you use fragrance in your abode? Aromatherapy diffusers are better than scented candles because they don’t emit potential toxins like formaldehyde into your indoor air. Aromas such as lavender have molecules that travel through your nasal passages, activating brain regions that tell you to relax — and they smell heavenly.
Surround yourself with comfort
People with chronic pain often find sleep challenging because they struggle to find a comfortable position. However, using certain props can help you attain relief. For example, folks with low back pain who sleep on their sides often find putting a pillow between their knees eases the ache. Doing so keeps your spine in alignment instead of letting it dip too far inward. Those with allergies or breathing difficulties benefit from adjustable beds to keep their heads elevated, alleviating airway blockages.
Ban the blue light
The blue light wavelength emitted by your computer and phone screens mimics that of the sun, tricking your body into thinking it’s still daylight. Exposure to excessive amounts interferes with melatonin production, a vital sleep hormone. Ban this disruptive wavelength from your bedroom by keeping an electronics charging station in your kitchen. Power down and unplug at least 30 minutes before you hit the sheets, leaving these items on the counter for the evening. You might also want to switch out alarm clocks with bright red lights for wind-up versions. These won’t give you an accusatory stare at 3:00 a.m., alerting you to how much longer you have to slumber, and they won’t let you down if your power goes out.
Try some gentle stretching
Stretching induces your body’s relaxation response — both mentally and physically. When you feel tense, the excess cortisol your body produces causes your muscles to contract. You might feel achy, and you have a harder time settling yourself. Why not try doing some gentle yoga right on your mattress? If you aren’t sure how to get started, a quick YouTube search for the hashtag “restorative yoga” reveals your perfect bedtime routine.
Include warm water
Think back to the last time you got to sit in a hot tub. Didn’t you feel gloriously relaxed afterward? Warm water can relax your muscles, especially when adding Epsom salts and perhaps a lavender tea bag or two. You might not have time for a bath every night, but taking one can help you get your Zzz’s when sleep proves elusive.
Drop the temperature
Do you like to swaddle yourself in pillows and blankets while you slumber? The worst is waking up all sweaty.
The ideal room temperature for getting your Zzz’s is 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to begin dropping degrees as you approach bedtime. You’ll naturally want to retreat to your cozy haven and snuggle in tight.
Sip some soothing tea
Are you in the habit of opting for a nightcap when you find sleep elusive? Doing so could be more harmful than helpful. Although alcohol does induce a temporary relaxed state, you often awaken midway through the night as your brain chemistry seeks to regulate itself. A better option is pouring a cup of healing herbal tea. Lavender and chamomile are classic choices that taste divine with a bit of warm or steamed milk. Other herbs you might consider are passionflower, lemon balm and valerian, although the latter works best if you use it nightly, giving it a chance to build up in your body.
Creating a relaxing bedtime routine
Are you among the quarter of Americans who struggle to get adequate shuteye? Create a relaxing before-bed routine with a few simple tips, and get better sleep tonight.
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