We read over and over again that we need to develop certain habits or create a bedtime routine to promote restful sleep, but we are often left wondering exactly what we need to do.
And one key question is: Why do we need to form bedtime habits at all?
The answer is simple; developing bedtime habits or routine signals to your body and brain that it is time to go to sleep.
Celebrate:MK caught up with sleep experts Sleep Advisor to find out eight bedtime habits that people in MK should add to their nightly routine…
1) Make The Time:
If falling asleep was as easy as laying in bed and closing our eyes and drifting off within fifteen minutes then all of us would be well rested and probably a bit less cranky in the morning.
For many, though, it is not as simple as shutting your eyes and sleeping. Sometimes our brains just do not want to turn off.
So, plan for your bedtime to routine to start at least an hour before you actually want to go to sleep, but depending on the habits you adopt, you might need more time.
2) Stick to Your Routine/Schedule:
It takes roughly two months for a habit to form and become second nature, according to the Huffington Post, so the best way to form a routine or habits before bed is to stick to it.
Even more importantly – stick to your schedule. Once you’ve started a specific set of habits before bed, your body knows it’s time to get ready for sleep, which ultimately aids in being able to fall asleep more quickly and efficiently each night.
3) Watch What You Eat and Drink:
Make it a priority and habit to cut out caffeine about four to six hours before you want to sleep.
Caffeine is a stimulant and will ultimately impede all of your efforts to fall asleep.
If you are thirsty, reach for something caffeine-free, like herbal tea, milk, juice, or water.
It is also best not eat or drink about an hour and a half before bed as this will cut down on potential bathroom breaks in the middle of the night.
4) Take a Bath or Shower:
Baths are a fantastic way to relax after a long day, throw in some essential oils or Epsom salt and you’ll be on your way to a really restful sleep.
However, if you’re pressed for time, a shower is also great to take before bed.
A warm shower or bath will help relax your muscles and lower your body temperature.
Warm water will cause more blood flow to the skin which in turn increases heat loss from the body.
We want to be cool at night because the ideal sleeping temperature is about 65-69 degrees fahrenheit, according to Sleep.Org.
5) Avoid Screen Time:
Make it a habit to turn off the television or put your phone away before you start your bedtime routine.
Not only does the electronic light from your TV, phone or tablet tell your brain that it is time to be awake, but watching any kind of exciting television will make you energised and alert.
So, if you must watch television before you go to bed, choose a rerun of an old classic that you’ve seen a million times or a light comedy.
It may not be the most ideal use of your leisure time, but will be better for your sleep than watching the newest episode of Game of Thrones, and spending hours contemplating the cliffhanger.
6) Listen to Calming Music:
Instead of watching television, playing games on your phone, or scrolling endlessly through Buzzfeed, put on some soft, calming music.
This will help put you in a relaxed state and allow you to forget your worries. It is a great option if you are used to watching television or prefer not to be in silence.
This allows you to listen to something while not being over stimulated, and if you have a specific mix you use before bed, it can help signal to your brain that it is time to sleep.
If you visit an amazing spa, like Grafton Spa & Wellness in Potterspury, you can even try buying the music mix that was used so that you have it for bedtime.
7) Try Reading:
You are in bed and it is half an hour before your bedtime. Pulling out your phone is very tempting, but instead, try reading a book, just make sure that it’s the right one..
Try a book or story that is light or short and not overly engrossing.
The point is to relax, and not to become so caught up in a book that you stay up the entire night finishing it.
Pick specific stopping points before you start reading, like the end of the next chapter, to make sure that you don’t stay up too late. Other times, you’ll feel yourself dozing off before you’ve even turned to the next page.
If reading isn’t your thing, try a sudoku puzzle, word search or crossword puzzle.
8) Don’t Watch the Clock:
We have all been in the position of trying to fall asleep and checking the clock every five minutes to figure out how much sleep we’ve lost, and how quickly we have to wake up the following morning.
As the minutes tick by we become more and more stressed out which may make us even more anxious about the events and activities approaching in the coming day.
Obsessing over the time isn’t a great choice, so if you have to think about something, try counting sheep or backwards from 100, it will keep your mind off of the time in a passive way.
By setting a better bedtime routine and establishing some amazing habits you’ll find that you will be sound asleep each night in no time at all!
For more tips and tricks on the best ways to get a good night’s sleep, visit Sleep Advisor.