How To Get Better Sleep? A Guide To Create The Prefect Bedtime Routine For You
Picture this: you’ve just switched off your laptop after working on a presentation. You’ve turned off the lights, pulled up your blanket, and closed your eyes. But you can’t sleep. Ten minutes go by, then half an hour, a couple of hours, and then finally, you start nodding off. You catch a few hours of sleep before morning comes and you have to shower and head off to work. But of course, you’re still sleepy. What’s worse, you find yourself nodding off during a boring meeting.
It’s a scenario we’re all too familiar with. With round-the-clock work schedules, the easy availability of junk food, and demanding social lives, it’s no wonder failing to get enough sleep is becoming increasingly problematic. The American Sleep Association reports that about 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep disorder, with about 30% of adults suffering from full-blown insomnia. In a study done by the CDC, 37.9% of adults reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day—those are some pretty alarming numbers.
While most of us are vigilant about getting our children to bed on time, we fail to do the same for ourselves. This good habit is seemingly forgotten once we mature, but perhaps it’s time we take a page from our childhoods. It’s time to start putting ourselves to bed.
Can’t Stop Worrying? Write it Down
One of the biggest reasons we grown-ups just can’t seem to fall asleep is because we’re constantly worrying about what we have to do the next day. How often have you laid awake at night telling yourself to remember to take Bruno to the vet or tell Linda to look over those charts again?
Instead of stressing over your to-do list for the next day, just write everything down in a journal before you get in bed. Better yet, keep a notebook on your nightstand so that you can instantly write down anything that comes to mind. That way, you won’t stress about what needs to be done and can focus on what you need to be doing: sleeping.
Reading Doesn’t Help? Try Something Else
Try to schedule your journaling type for about two hours before you get in bed. After you’re done, try to do something relaxing in order to prepare your mind and body for sleep. This will be different for everyone. Some people find reading to be the perfect way to relax, others not so much. Try to find what works for you and schedule some time in right before you hit the hay.
If reading doesn’t do it for you, try meditating, breathing exercises, a warm bath, or listening to relaxing music. To give yourself an extra push into sleep mode, try adding some lavender to your bedroom or making some non-caffeinated tea. Whatever your ritual, avoid any activity that involves staring at a screen. Screens are your number one enemy when it comes to sleep as they emit a blue light which interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone that encourages your body to sleep.
Exercising Before Bed? It’s Time To Change Your Schedule
Okay, so you’ve switched off your laptop and mobile phone an hour before bed, written down your to-do list, and soaked yourself in a warm tub. Yet, you can’t seem to doze off right away. What are you doing wrong? Your gym membership may be responsible.
Most people tend to exercise in the evenings, but this could be having a detrimental impact on your sleep patterns. Any form of heavy exercise should preferably be done in the mornings or afternoons and not in the evening, as just an hour of cardio exercise can keep your mind and body active for hours to come.
Try to reschedule your exercise sessions for the early mornings. Instead of hitting the gym after work, try running in the morning. If you can’t exercise in the morning, try doing yoga in the evening instead or another form of low-intensity exercise.
Feeling Hungry? Eat a Light Snack
Contrary to popular belief, it’s fine to have a light snack before sleeping. However, avoid eating heavy meals at night. Some foods, such as bananas, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread, actually encourage sleep.
Lying Awake For Hours? Get Up!
Sometimes, you just can’t seem to fall asleep no matter what you do. You’ve followed your bedtime routine to a T, you’ve seemingly done everything you can do in order to relax, but you’re still tossing and turning, wondering why you can’t just fall asleep. Believe it or not, the best thing you can do in this situation is get up.
First of all, don’t be hard on yourself. Often, the more you want to fall asleep, the more awake you will feel. Just calm down, get out of bed, and going back to doing your relaxing activity. If it’s reading, go back to reading your book until you start to feel tired and then turn out the light. Simply lying awake and getting frustrated won’t help you fall asleep any faster.
Still Tossing and Turning? Check Your Temperature
Maybe the problem doesn’t lie in your bedtime routine, but in your surroundings. Ideally, your room should be set to about 18 to 22 degrees Celsius. It’s easier to sleep in slightly colder temperatures, which is why you tend to feel ‘sleepier’ during winter compared to summer. Your bedroom should also be silent and dark (or with dim lighting at the most). Also, experts recommend investing in high quality bedding, including a supportive mattress and pillows to ensure your neck and spine have proper support.
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