The vast majority of adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, and that’s backed up by numerous high quality studies. A lack of sleep can cause irritability, difficulty concentrating, and subpar performance at work, so getting enough good quality sleep is crucial to your health. Unfortunately, many people aren’t getting at least 7 hours of shuteye most nights, and their days are suffering for it.
Developing and sticking to a regular bedtime ritual can aid in getting the necessary amount of sleep each night to function at peak performance the following day. While creating a new evening habit can be a big shift from scrolling on your phone in bed while eating snacks, it’s an important thing to do if you want to maintain great health and feel your best. Great sleep is the foundation of health and longevity, so use this guide to create a smart bedtime habit.
Creating your Bedtime Routine
You should use the time before bed as a chance to relax and unwind in order to get a good night's sleep. Create a routine that works for you and put yourself to bed at a similar time each night.
Maintain a consistent bedtime and wake time
Maintaining a regular bedtime routine can be challenging, especially on weekends when you might want to stay up later. However, the first step in developing a successful bedtime routine is to establish regular times to go to sleep at night and to wake up in the morning. This will make those early mornings easier to manage, and you won’t want to hit the snooze button 15 times in a row. If you typically have social activities in the evening, consider calling it a night before 10pm so you have time to relax before getting into bed. Make sure to account for any time needed to fall asleep.
While some lucky people can fall asleep the minute their head hits the pillow, some people need a little more time, and you might have to get in bed a little sooner if you do breathing exercises or meditation to help you drift off.
Having caffeine late in the day can keep you up all night.
Caffeine is a stimulant that causes feelings of temporary alertness but can disrupt your natural sleep pattern. The 30 minute mark after ingestion is typically when caffeine's effects are at their strongest. Caffeine, in the form of coffee or caffeinated soft drinks, consumed in the morning or early afternoon has little to no effect on most people's ability to fall asleep at night. Some people burn off caffeine faster than others, but this stimulant can stay in your bloodstream for more than 7 hours. Plan to have your last caffeinated drink at least that long before your bedtime, and consider keeping caffeine only to the mornings.
Don't drink or smoke late at night.
Both smoking and alcohol consumption can disrupt your sleep patterns, but in different ways. Like caffeine, nicotine is a stimulant that increases alertness and vigilance. This applies to nicotine patches as well as cigarettes. Issues with sleeping are also common when trying to kick the habit, but most people report improvement after a few weeks, so be patient if you’re working on quitting. Conversely, alcohol can help many people fall asleep, but it can also cause sleep problems later on after the alcohol has been metabolized. The sleep you get from drinking alcohol tends to be lighter (not the deep or REM sleep your body and brain need to recover fully), your heartrate stays elevated all night, and your body temperature doesn’t drop when it should.
Keep your screen time to a minimum.
All the screens you stare at all day, from your computer to your television, to your phone are beaming blue light straight into your eyes. This blue light is a signal to your brain that it’s time to be awake, since it mimics the wavelengths that would be present outside earlier in the day. This light can prevent your brain from producing melatonin, the hormone that aids in sleep, and thus make it harder to drift off at bedtime. Screen time within two hours of bedtime has been shown to cause sleeplessness and make it harder to fall asleep, so if you must look at your phone, use an app that filters down the blue light, and make sure it’s as dim as possible.
Make time to relax and de-stress.
Difficulty unwinding before bedtime has been linked to stress from things like work and family life. Finding relaxing activities like meditation, yoga before bed, or a hot bath before turning in can help you unwind and get a better night's sleep. If you have trouble sleeping because your mind is racing, writing down your thoughts may help you put your worries to rest until morning. Some people find that playing soft music helps to give their racing mind something to focus on while they drift off, or try a guided meditation or body scan, where you simply put your awareness on various parts of your body to release tension.
Choose smart bedtime supplementation.
The evening is an ideal time to use restorative supplements that can help you feel more rejuvenated in the morning. Lights Out is an ideal option for helping you fall asleep and stay asleep, and promotes healthy circadian cycles. It includes a low dose of melatonin and natural herbs that help the mind and the body to relax so you can get enough deep and REM sleep each night. You can also add Omega-3 oil, turmeric, and Electrolyte Recovery Plus to reduce inflammation and ensure you stay hydrated all night long.
How to make your bedroom the perfect sleep cave.
A restful bedroom is essential for a regular bedtime routine. You can make your bedroom a better place to sleep by taking some simple steps.
Keep the room cool and cozy.
As part of the normal sleep cycle, your core body temperature drops. Studies have shown that an overly hot bedroom environment can disrupt sleep and cause fatigue the following day, despite the fact that some people may be tempted to raise the temperature in their bedroom or bundle up with cozy blankets to stay warm. Lowering the temperature by a few degrees before bedtime usually results in a more restful night's sleep. If you're having trouble winding down at night, try taking a warm shower or bath before bed. If you need to feel warmer as you fall asleep, you can add blankets or focus on warming your feet with a heated pad. After you’re asleep, if you are too warm you’ll naturally kick the extra covers off.
Turn down the lights.
Exposure to natural light is a major factor in setting and maintaining our circadian rhythms, which regulate our sleep-wake cycles. Because of this, we have more energy during the day and start to feel sleepy as night falls. Nighttime exposure to artificial light can prevent the body from producing melatonin because the brain is tricked into thinking it is still daytime. Keeping the lights dim and getting rid of electronics like TVs and computers can help you wind down for bed. If it’s possible, have your lights shift to warmer amber or red tones which mimic the light frequencies at sunset.
Mute notifications and background noise.
Studies have found a correlation between exposure to disruptive noises in the night and insomnia. Nighttime noise has been linked to an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, according to some research. If you can't ensure complete silence in your bedroom, try playing some white noise, ambient sounds, or soothing music to help you drift off. If you live somewhere that there is noise outside that you can’t control, consider sleeping headphones designed to be comfortably worn in bed that help to cancel noise, or try wearing earplugs to get the peaceful sleep you need.
Use the bed only for sleeping.
If after 15 or 20 minutes of trying to sleep in bed, you find that you are still wide awake, it is best to get out of bed and go into another room. You should wait until you are tired before returning to bed. You create subconscious associations of spaces in your home, and if you often lie awake in bed, your brain will thing that’s what should be done there. Sit quietly in another room, and do quiet activities like reading a physical book or knitting until you’re ready to drift off again. And of course, the bed remains a perfectly appropriate place for other adult activities, which can also promote more restful sleep.
Your mattress might be past its prime.
Over time, mattress indentations and impressions are unavoidable. Although normal, such deterioration could reduce the mattress's capacity to comfortably support the body and relieve pressure on joints. A new mattress can help people with back problems get a better night's sleep and reduce their pain. An effective mattress can last for about seven years before it needs to be replaced.
While periodic difficulty sleeping is normal, if you have serious problems falling asleep or staying asleep, your trusted medical professional may suggest going through a sleep study or having other diagnostics run to ensure there aren’t any deeper issues preventing you from getting good sleep. If you need support around normal sleep issues, like not being able to relax enough to fall asleep, try Lights Out. It's a gentle sleep aid with herbs and a low dose of melatonin that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep without causing dependency. It's a great night time hack to help you get the sleep you need when you need it.