We may think that nightly routines are meant for children and that, as adults, we’ve grown beyond needing that kind of nocturnal structure. However, everyone, from 2-year-olds to 92-year-olds, benefits from a good sleep hygiene routine. We all know sleep is vital for restoring your energy after a long day. But getting adequate sleep is also crucial for sustaining optimal health. Poor sleep quality is linked with a host of preventable diseases, from cardiovascular issues to diabetes, to stroke. However, not everyone can fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow.
A nightly routine is an ideal solution, and all it takes to implement is some commitment and imagination. Creating and sustaining a bedtime routine gives you the tools you need to unwind your mind and body naturally. So, get into your cozy clothes and set aside time for you to give your body and brain the clear signal that it’s time for bed.
The Importance of Sleep
A busy lifestyle isn’t conducive to falling asleep naturally, which can cause mental and physical harm. Sleep is a time when our bodies and minds regenerate and rebalance, yet too many people aren’t getting the sleep they need. Sleep is vital for functioning well during the day, to deal with the stressors of life, and to keep acute and chronic conditions and diseases at bay. When you don’t get the right amount or quality of sleep, you don’t benefit from its protective influence on your body.
Although the amounts needed change with age and vary from person to person, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that any adult between the ages of 18-60 get seven or more hours of sleep a night. So, if you’re not getting this amount, if you’re waking up feeling tired, and if you need a constant stream of coffee to keep you going through the day, your body’s telling you something.
Why Have a Nightly Routine?
Many lifestyle habits, such as watching TV and scrolling your phone, can disrupt your natural body clock, making it challenging to fall asleep naturally. Likewise, anxiety, stress, depression, and other emotional issues can also leave you tossing and turning, unable to sleep.
A nightly routine is important because it acts as a reset for your body. The rituals and activities performed during your routine are subtle cues designed to put you in a relaxed state, so you’re ready for sleep. By instigating certain habits before bed, you’re helping your mind and body wind down and switch off. Your routine can also help remove the stressors that prevent you from sleeping in the first place, eventually allowing you to quickly and easily fall into a deep sleep.
Selecting Intentional Habits
Choosing what to include in your nightly routine doesn’t need to be challenging. If you have children, you may already understand the rituals that help promote sleep. Incorporate habits you know help you relax and try new ones to see how you respond. The following ideas can be excellent additions to your nightly routine:
● Write in a Journal
Avoid using technology and grab an old-fashioned pen and paper instead to get worrying thoughts out of your head. Keep a cute journal and a pen by your bed and spend 5-10 minutes jotting down events that happened during the day or tasks you need to do the following morning.
● List To-Dos
Think of everything you need to do tomorrow, the things you’re afraid you’ll forget, and write them down—again, without using technology. It’s great to get these recorded before bed, so you don’t have them floating around your head when you’re trying to sleep.
● Listen to Soothing Music
Instrumentals are wonderfully relaxing before bed. Create a playlist containing your favorite relaxing music and play it each night. If you find music too distracting, a white noise machine provides unstimulating background sounds, which can help you drift off.
● Have a Warm Shower or Bath
Unwind in the warm water and use products with relaxing scents like lavender, chamomile, or rose. You can also take this time to perform a soothing skincare routine.
● Read a Book
The gentle movement of your eyes over the page can lull you into a deep sense of relaxation. But be sure to pick a book that isn’t overly stimulating, and one you know you can easily put down.
● Include Natural Supplements
Drink camomile tea; take melatonin, CBD, or valerian root; or have a warm milk drink. Find natural supplements that work for you.
Use conscious breathing and visualization to relax your mind and body. Get an app to help you or follow a guided meditation/visualization online.
Studies have shown that yoga can help improve the quality of your sleep. Gentle stretching before bed may ease tension built up over the day to let you unwind and get you into a deep state of relaxation.
● Set the Mood
Blue light from electronic devices tricks your body into thinking that it is still daylight, while clutter can increase stress and prevent you from sleeping. Create an environment that is conducive to better sleep. Make your bed with a cozy blanket, dim the lights, and set your electronics to charge in a different room. You can also adjust the thermostat and use a humidifier to control your bedroom climate.
Final Tip: Don’t Worry
Having a consistent nightly routine can address and counteract the stresses of your day so you can get better sleep. Improve this one aspect, and you’ll benefit physically, emotionally, and mentally in both the short- and long-term. Establishing positive habits allows us to stay healthy.
Incorporate things you know help you relax and add cozy touches to help create the perfect space for relaxation. Treat yourself to a beautiful blanket that inspires you. If you know you need help to organize your thoughts and priorities, get a notebook or planner to record your thoughts and tasks. If you’re heading to bed in uncomfortable, old sleepwear, indulge in cozy clothes and loungewear that make you feel good.