In this Quick Guide post I’m sharing 12 tips I use to create a better bedtime routine.
Why is a bedtime routine important?
Creating a healthy sleep routine helps you fall asleep and wake up easier. If you’re not careful then poor quality of sleep can make your life and health a wreck.
According to a Healthline article, studies link sleep deprivation to long term health problems. Similarly, new research by Dr. Xiao Liu and colleagues at The Pennsylvania State University show how sleep-related brain activity clears toxin buildup preventing Alzheimer’s disease (yes, for real!). So, investing time into a bedtime routine has benefits far beyond eliminating morning grogginess.
Here are my 12, go-to tips for a comfortable and calming night’s rest. I hope that one of these action steps helps you start your own bedtime ritual.
12 tips I use to create a better bedtime routine
1. Start your routine early
Good rest starts earlier than you think it does. For the best results start your bedtime routine 1 - 3 hours before you want to fall asleep. Don’t underestimate the power of preparing your mind, body and environment to aid in sleep. Of course, adjusting this step is normal and tweaking your start-time will ensure you find your bedtime sweet spot.
2. Keep a consistent bedtime
Keep it simple and choose a time for bed and commit to the schedule. For example, I keep a timeframe to be in bed between 10:30pm and 11:00pm every night. If a bedtime window isn’t your cup of tea pick a time to start winding down because sometimes the idea of "starting" to relax is more enticing than "stopping" an activity.
3. Turn off electronicsStudies show light emitting from our phones and computers, called blue light, limits our body’s ability to make the hormone melatonin. Melatonin influences circadian rhythms which acts like the body’s biological clock. As a result, lack of melatonin disrupts our sleep potentially causing health issues. Turning off phones, computers and televisions at least 30 minutes before bed prepares your body to get in tune with its natural night clock and feel sleepy.
4. Get natural sunlight during the daySwap screen light for sunlight. Getting bright light the natural way during the daytime increases your body’s natural vitamin D levels. Quality levels of vitamin D assists with the release of the serotonin hormone. On the day side, serotonin boosts your mood and helps you feel focused. However, low levels of serotonin have been associated with less sleeping hours and restorative sleep cycles. Like I’m always saying, routines make you who you are for better or worse.
5. Stop caffeine at the right timeAccording to the Cleveland Clinic, 6 hours after you’ve consumed caffeine half of it remains in your body’s system. For example, if you stop drinking coffee 8 hours before you need to go to sleep you have a better chance of achieving restful sleep.
6. Dim the lightsSet a restful mood by dimming lights throughout your home or bedroom. Darkness cues the brain for sleep as well as the production of melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone. By simply avoiding bright lights leading up to bedtime you’ll promote this natural sleep-aid which pumps through your body all night long until sunlight activate serotonin to take over in the morning.
7. Wear comfortable pajamasThere's no better feeling than putting on pajamas after a long day. So, treat yourself to silky, soft, and non-irritating loungewear or pjs. Pajamas, or at least a good set, help to:
- Keep you warm or cool
- Act as a barrier for flaky skin
- Keep you comfortable
- Signal the brain it’s time relax
8. Keep pillows clean
Pillows, like mattresses have a life-span. Over time hair, body oil, skin, sweat and makeup build up inside. Dust mites enjoy this environment and eat the flaked-off skin (gross!). And worse, the mites poop further filling up your pillow with allergens. Not to mention, coughing, sneezing, itchy skin and eyes are symptoms of dust mite allergies.
How do you prevent this vicious cycle? First, if you’re pillow is washable do so every 2 months and protect it with a dust-mite cover. Second, wash pillow cases every 1 - 3 weeks. Third, replace pillows every 1- 2 years.
9. Sleep on soothing bedsheetsChoose sheets, comforters and blankets that promote comfort and a good sleep temperature. Although an adult’s optimal sleep temperature varies you can test your ideal zone by lowering the thermostat by 3-5 degrees. Also, washing your linens and duvets at least once per week reduces allergens also known as dust mites.
10. Protect your mattressYour mattress is meant to help you sleep better. But it can also hurt your ability to rest well. How old is your mattress? It's recommend to swap out your mattress every 6 - 8 years. Invest in a mattress dust mite cover to limit those disgusting mites from making your bed their next home.
11. Use relaxation techniquesWithin 60 to 90 minutes before bedtime, try one of these 6 relaxing, healthy sleep habits:
- Practice light yoga or stretching
- Take a warm bath or shower 1 to 2 hours before bed
- Listen to calming music or soundscapes
- Write down thoughts using the brain dump method
- Drink warm, caffein-free tea
- Practice prayer or meditation
12. Brain dump mental exercise
With a brain dump you clear your mind and write all of your thoughts down. Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down any thoughts you’re experiencing. Once the time ends, put the list away and plan to review it the next day to sort, arrange or prioritize the ideas or feelings you “dumped” onto paper. With less to think about you hopefully can focus attention towards sleeping.
Bonus Tip: Night Affirmations for Better Sleep
I’m jumping right into 9 examples of positive, night mantras you can say to yourself, out loud or write down in a bedtime journal for review anytime. Remember, don't use your phone or computer before bed!
9 Night Affirmations
- I am calm and peaceful
- I am ready for deep and restful sleep
- I choose to be grateful for this still and quiet space I created for bedtime
- I am honoring my mind and body with rest
- I am my best self when I rest my self
- I will let go of my worries
- I believe in waking up feeling refreshed
- I did my best today and look forward to the blessing of tomorrow
- I am grateful for what I accomplished today
To dive deeper into what affirmations are all about…and how to use them read my blog post, “3 Reasons Why Affirmations Are So Powerful”.
These 12 tips to create a better bedtime routine are simple but important to promoting better quality sleep. With just a few tweaks you can create a healthy, relaxing bedtime ritual that you’ll look forward to doing each night.