Your new bedtime routine: 4 steps to a great night’s sleep

Most of us recognize the importance of a bedtime routine for kids. Studies show that children who have established routines during early childhood have fewer behavior problems and better cognitive performance. But what about adults?

It turns out that establishing a bedtime routine that promotes consistent and solid sleep is just as important for adults as it is for children.

Why establishing a bedtime routine is important for adults, too.

Here’s how it works: Our bodies follow a natural circadian rhythm. So, to some extent, sleep is a physiological process. However, when a change in routine disrupts the rhythm, our bodies have a harder time following it.

Here’s an example: It’s 8:00 PM and you’ve just returned from a walk. With the sunset and your return to your home environment, your body naturally starts producing melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep cycles.

You take a shower, put on pajamas and get into bed around 9:30 PM. Then you turn on your iPad, as well as the news, and check your phone for any missed text messages. Before you know it, it is 11:00 PM and you’re no longer tired!

Does this sound familiar? When we disrupt our body’s natural sleep cycle by exposing it to blue light and stimulating our minds, it makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Imagine letting your children stay on the computer, TV and their phones for hours each night. Then giving them all of the ice cream they want and quickly plopping them down in bed for the night three hours past their bedtime. This is essentially what we are doing to ourselves!

The good news is that by changing our behavior we can set our bodies up for a great night’s sleep.

Your new bedtime routine: 4 steps to a great night’s sleep

Do you struggle to fall asleep, and to wake up? Break the cycle by practicing these four proven habits before bedtime.

Do you struggle to fall asleep, and to wake up? Break the cycle by practicing these four proven habits before bedtime.

One day in 2007, Arianna Huffington, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post was checking emails when she passed out. She fell out of her chair and awoke in a pool of blood with a broken cheekbone.

She says that the fall was “a wake up call,” and since, has been urging others to stop perpetuating what she believes is a “sleep deprivation crisis.”

Here are a few of the sleep hacks that Arianna Huffington, as well as others, are using to “rekindle the romance” with sleep.

30 minutes before bedtime: Take charge of your devices

Your late-night email habit could be having a big impact on your ability to fall and stay asleep.

Your late-night email habit could be having a big impact on your ability to fall and stay asleep.

Scientists have known for a long time that light is the single most powerful way to reset our circadian clock. Past studies have also shown that light suppresses melatonin, the hormone that sends signals to our body that it’s time to go to sleep.

In the 1990’s, researchers started studying how different wavelengths of light affect our sleep. They found that we are most sensitive to light in the blue wavelength – the exact type of light that all of our devices radiate.

Thirty minutes before you go to sleep, turn off all of your devices and take them out of your bedroom. If you need to, put them in a box in a cabinet in the kitchen, or someplace where they are hard to reach.

20 minutes before bedtime: Practice self-care

Take 15 minutes before you turn in for the night to practice some self-care.

Take 15 minutes before you turn in for the night to practice some self-care.

Throughout the day, our sympathetic nervous system sends out impulses, or stress hormones, that cause several changes in the body. These can include changes to our heartbeat, our blood pressure and more.

To help your body calm down, establish a ritual of practicing self-care for approximately 15 minutes before you turn in for the night. This could include:

5 minutes before bedtime: Get dressed for sleep

When we get dressed in the morning, we dress for the activity. If we are going to work, we wear work clothes. If we are going on a run, we wear running clothes. We wouldn’t wear our pajamas to an important meeting. Why, then, do we wear gym clothes and old t-shirts to bed?

Make sure the pajamas you are wearing are designed specifically for sleep. They should be soft, comfortable and warm or cool depending upon the season.

Make sure your sleep environment is dark, quiet and comfortable, too.

Finally: Be grateful

Just as you close your eyes, think of three things that happened during the day for which you are grateful.

Find that your mind is spinning? Create a worry journal in which you write down all of the things circling in your head and leave it outside of your bedroom.

Additional sleep hacks:

  • Don’t exercise 0-4 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and alcohol and sugar at night.
  • Try not to eat or drink 1 hour before bedtime.
  • Make sure your room is not a multipurpose room. Use it only for sleeping.
  • Strive to go to sleep and wake up at the same times each day. It’s important to schedule your bedtime and stick to it, no matter what pops up.

Want some more sleep hacks?

Be sure to visit our Live Life Healthy blog for daily health hacks!

Start your new bedtime routine tonight. Stash a few of our Healthy Human Rover Pint cups by your bed and enjoy some herbal tea before you fall asleep tonight.

What do you think?

What do you do before bedtime that helps you get a good night’s rest? Let us know in the comments below.