With busy lives and schedules, many people don’t have a night routine and rather flop into bed at whatever time they feel like it. Having seven or eight hours of sleep, despite being the recommended amount, doesn’t always equal a good night’s sleep. Sleep problems may impact sleep quality, especially when a person lacks a nightly routine.
Benefits of a night routine
When you wake up in the morning, you go about your morning routine. (Hint, if you don’t have a morning routine either, read this first). You might have a shower and listen to your favourite podcast. Next up is breakfast while checking messages and e-mails. Include some exercise and journaling and you are off for the work day. Whatever you do in the morning, you do them because they set you up for the long day ahead, especially when it is a work day.
A nighttime routine works in the same way; it prepares you for the next day. It also serves as good sleep hygiene that will give you healthy sleep. It tells your internal clock that it is almost time to rest; you then wind down, relax, and have a good night. In the morning, you wake up refreshed and full of energy for the day ahead.
Lastly, by having a night routine coupled with enough sleep, you also take care of your mental health. The recommended number of sleep hours plus high-quality sleep reduces stress and anxiety that may have built up from work, school, or general life stress.
What NOT to do before sleep
Okay so if you’re about setting up a night routine, you might need to assess your habits. First let’s look at the bad habits that keep your mind active and aren’t helping you get good quality sleep.
Netflix but no chill
Ever since the dawn of Netflix, binge-watching has become a beloved pastime, usually done in the evening and well into the early hours of the morning. The practice may be a great way to switch off from a busy day, but spending all night watching Netflix disrupts your circadian rhythm. The body stays up and active when it should be resting and recovering. No wonder then that people wake up groggy and grumpy afterwards
Can't live without gadgets
In the meantime, others may not be binge-watching, but they might be endlessly scrolling on their phone until the second they try to sleep. You might be watching TV and on your phone at the same time! . Social media made it easier for people to stay awake during sleep hours. Moreover, blue light from phone screens keeps you awake, preventing you from falling into deep resting sleep later on. The same thing happens to people dedicated to their work and staying on their computer late into the night. Tasks and assignments may keep you awake for too long, exposing you to more and more blue light when it is already time to sleep.
Control is the key
Now, binge-watching and the use of phones for work or social media are great activities, but you probably need to learn to put them in their place to protect yourself.
Try limiting yourself to watch only a few episodes before you sleep, or you may set a time when you have to stop watching or stop using gadgets. In the end, what is essential is that you dedicate enough time to winding down as much as you save time for these other habits.
What to DO before sleep
Before you sleep, you should set aside an hour or more to relax and prepare for bed. This includes switching off from all technology. So what can you do instead?
Write to relax and clear the mind
Journaling is a great way to relax and debrief from the day, allowing you to let go of any negative thoughts or feelings. Writing your plans, thoughts, ideas, experiences, and other things that come to mind has been known to reduce mild stress and anxiety.
Listen and be at ease
Should you prefer a more passive activity, you can listen to music instead; only make sure that the music you listen to will relax you rather than hype you up. Other alternatives include calming nature sounds or white noise that can ease your mind just as effectively.
Podcasts are also increasingly popular, and you have a multitude of shows to choose from. As long as you become calm and relaxed, you may listen to almost any of these. Maybe just avoid the scary true crime podcasts, they probably won’t help relax you.
Drink some calming tea
Whatever relaxing activity you might enjoy before bed, pair it with a cup of tea. Teas and their blends have the advantage of relaxing the body and the mind. There’s a reason why meditative practices use tea instead of coffee. Although caffeine is present in tea, the amount is tiny. The leaves also contain various antioxidants and natural chemicals that help with sleep.
Take a warm bath
Another relaxing activity is to take a nice warm bath. . Showers are also good , but not quite the same as soaking yourself in warm water at night.
The aim of a warm bath here is to increase your core body temperature before you sleep. By the time you finally go to bed, your body temperature drops to levels optimal for good quality sleep, including deep sleep.
Need more relaxing ideas? Check out the benefits of reading before bed.
Develop your bedtime routine
To achieve the best sleep possible, you need a combination of enough hours of sleep but also high-quality z’s, and the best way to achieve that is through a sleep routine. It’s not easy to develop a personal routine and change your habits, but it is worthwhile.
Dedicate an hour or two, and pick a few activities that make you relaxed rather than keep you awake. Practice these activities within that time before bed, and you will create sleep habits that will, in turn, lead to a great night’s sleep.