Build a Better Sleep Routine in 5 Easy Steps
Recently, we learned about all the amazing things sleep does for the body, and what happens when we don’t get enough zzz’s. With a time change and long winter nights on the way, it’s a good time to reprioritize rest and reassess your sleep habits. Are you getting enough sleep? Do you wake up in the middle of the night often or have a hard time falling asleep? Do you wake up each morning feeling groggy or exhausted?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, we want to help you change up your nightly routine! Here are our top 5 tips for building a better bedtime routine that may help you get a more restful night’s sleep:
1 – Stop eating late-night snacks
This might be a tough habit to break, but it’s worth the results. Research shows that late-night snacking can actually make it harder for you to sleep and cause unwanted interruptions overnight.1,2 Sleep Foundation recommends eating your last meal or snacks no less than two to four hours before bed to prevent this. If you can’t resist the urge to nibble something while you watch TV, the experts recommend at least avoiding foods high in protein, fat, sugar, and caffeine(yes, that means alcohol, preworkout, and coffee with dinner).3
2 – Schedule worry time
Racing thoughts can be a huge obstacle to restful sleep, especially for the 40 million+ adults with diagnosed anxiety disorder.4 According to the experts, the best way to keep your daily worries from flooding your brain all night is simply to spend a few minutes addressing your concerns each day so you can actually relax for sleep. In fact, a small 2018 study found that participants who completed to-do lists before sleep fell asleep faster than those who didn’t make a list.5 After you confront your to-do list, whether by checking off or rescheduling tasks, you can shift your focus to more soothing activities and thoughts.
3 – Put away or turn off screens
With all our favorite entertainment options at our fingertips 24/7, it can be incredibly hard to get away from screens – even just for a few minutes each day! The bad news is: our phones are keeping us awake a little too late most nights and may prevent us from getting good quality sleep. The blue light emitted from our screens tricks our circadian rhythm into believing it’s daytime, so our minds remain more active than they should be at bedtime.6 Our brains are also addicted to the dopamine we produce by engaging with social media and our favorite entertainment. As Harvard Health pointed out, “Every notification, whether it’s a text message, a ‘like’ on Instagram, or a Facebook notification, has the potential to be a positive social stimulus and dopamine influx.”7
You can break this cycle by putting away screens entirely, or compromise by lowering the brightness of your screen with a night light filter (which most phones include these days). We recommend pursuing a quiet activity that engages the body’s five senses, a therapist-approved technique that can help quiet your mind and relax you for sleep.8
4 – Make time for physical and mental health
Science says that exercising for at least 30 minutes per day can have an impact on how well you sleep at night, so it’s important to prioritize it.9 Thankfully, it’s super easy and low-effort to incorporate some light physical activity into your nightly routine! Use part of your winddown time to stretch while you listen to a relaxing podcast, guided meditation, or soothing music. The experts have said you may need to experiment with the timing to find what time of night works best for you. We encourage everyone to take good care of their physical and mental health outside of the evening hours as well, including seeing a doctor or therapist if you have any unusual reoccurring symptoms. Gasping for air, for example, can be a symptom of sleep apnea,10 while waking up confused or scared may indicate night terrors.11
5 – Stick to the same bedtime each night
This one may be a no-brainer, but it can make all the difference in the world! According to the CDC, maintaining a consistent bedtime all week (yes, even the weekends) is crucial to getting better sleep.12 If you train your body clock to shut down at 10pm and start up at 6am, it will become easier to get sleepy at 10pm and wake up feeling refreshed at 6am. Bonus: keeping a consistent bedtime may also help prevent certain diseases by influencing gut health.13
you can do this!
We’re confident that these tips can help you achieve a consistent bedtime routine every night, but it is important to note that everyone is different and not all nights will be perfect. How late you stay up and how much sleep you get is completely up to you! The important part is that you wake up feeling well-rested most days and are satisfied with how well you slept.
To help ease you into your new sleep schedule and prepare you for unexpected nighttime disturbances, we suggest keeping a pair of headphones or earplugs, a sleep mask, and a jar of our gentle Beyond Sleep GummiesTM on your nightstand. Spend less time tossing and turning, and more time counting sheep!
Do you have any sleep tips? Share them with us in the comments or on social media!