Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans experience insomnia every year? There are many reasons why people have trouble falling or staying asleep. Stress, sleep disorders, or a bad mattress can all wreak havoc on your sleeping routine. If you’re struggling to get the rest you need, could it be that you need to revamp your nighttime rituals? Creating a simple bedtime routine signals your body that it’s time to unwind—and leads to a much better night of sleep.
In this post, we’ll discuss 9 easy steps to create a bedtime routine for adults. Read on to learn how to get the best sleep tonight and every night!
1. Create a Bedtime Schedule
Each of us has an internal clock that regulates our sleeping and waking. Just like you have regular times of the day to eat your meals, you should also have a regular time you go to sleep and wake up.
Whenever possible, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time. Even on the weekends or during vacations, do your best to stay “on track” with your body’s circadian rhythm.
The length of time you sleep each night matters too, and it should remain consistent. While you may occasionally stay up past your bedtime or wake up extra early, aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
2. Make Your Bedroom Inviting
Your bedroom should be a restful haven for you to get away from the world. If possible, try not to use your bed for anything other than sleep and sex.
You’re likely to get the best rest if your room is quiet, cool, and dark. Keep electronics in other parts of the house and save your television-watching for the living room.
The right pillow is essential for a good night’s sleep. Different types of pillows could be ideal for you depending on whether you’re a back, side, or stomach sleeper. Try an array of pillows until you find the one that you can’t wait to sink into at night.
Speaking of sinking, when’s the last time you bought a new mattress? Are you still sleeping on a hard or sagging spring mattress?
If so, it’s time to upgrade. You spend one-third of your life on your mattress, so make sure yours is a good one. There are lots of fantastic options for mattresses out there, so shop around until you find the one your body loves.
3. Find the Right Temperature
An essential part of your bedtime routine is ensuring your bedroom is the right temperature.
If your room is too warm, you’ll awaken more frequently and won’t get the restorative REM sleep your body needs. On the other hand, a room that’s too cold will make it harder for you to fall and stay asleep.
Personal preferences vary, but doctors recommend a cool 60-67 degrees for a good night’s sleep. If that’s cooler than you’re used to, try layering an extra blanket or wearing a pair of warm socks on your feet.
Air circulation is critical too, as a “still” room can quickly turn stuffy and disrupt your sleep. If you don’t have a ceiling fan installed, get the air moving with a floor fan or a small fan on your nightstand.
4. Limit Blue Light Exposure
In this day and age, we can’t live without our electronics. However, using them too much (especially before bedtime) can make it harder for you to fall asleep.
Screens emit mostly blue light, which is great for the environment but tough on your body. Studies show that prolonged exposure to blue light reduces melatonin levels in the body—that’s the hormone that helps you sleep.
An important part of your bedtime routine is reducing or eliminating your blue light exposure in the evenings. Avoid looking at any computer, tablet, or phone screens for at least an hour before bedtime. If you must, use a blue light filter to limit the amount of blue light reaching your eyes.
Another tip? Keep the TV in the living room. If possible, charge your electronic devices outside the bedroom too. Keeping those lights and frequencies away from your bed will lead to a more peaceful slumber.
5. Get Regular Exercise
Would you like one more reason to exercise regularly?
Studies show that aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow-wave or “deep” sleep you get. If you can squeeze even 30 minutes of heart-pumping activity into your daily routine, it could have a profound impact on how well you sleep that night.
The question is: When should you exercise? There’s no hard and fast rule for this one, although experts recommend not exercising too close to bedtime.
Exercise boosts endorphin production, which causes a spike in energy levels for most adults. If you work out before you try to go to bed, you may feel too energized to fall asleep.
Try to exercise earlier in the day, or before dinnertime at the latest. Exercise is great for your bedtime routine—as long as you don’t do it right before bedtime.
6. Watch What (And When) You Eat & Drink
No surprises here: Caffeine is your friend during the day, but it can rob you of precious sleep at night.
There’s nothing wrong with a morning cup of coffee, but try not to drink any caffeinated beverages past lunchtime. You should also keep an eye out for “hidden” caffeine in common foods like chocolate, frozen yogurt, or breakfast bars.
What about alcohol? A glass of wine may make you feel sleepy, but as your body burns off the booze, it can disrupt your sleep later in the night. If you want to indulge in a nighttime libation, do it well before bedtime.
As important as what you eat and drink is when you do so. Never go to bed when you’re stuffed from a big meal—that’s a sure recipe for insomnia (and heartburn).
Try not to snack after dinnertime, but if you must, stick with a small, protein-packed portion. A few slices of turkey, a spoonful of yogurt, or a handful of berries could be all you need to drift off into la-la-land.
7. Find Your Best Way to Unwind
We’ve focused a lot on what not to do to help you fall asleep, so now let’s talk about creating that perfect bedtime routine for you.
We all have different ways of unwinding at the end of the day. If you’re replacing some bad habits with healthier ones, what are your options?
Here are a few suggestions to try:
- Read a book (not on a screen)
- Listen to soothing music
- Dim the lights
- Light candles
- Meditate, pray, or practice gratitude
- Do a short yoga session
- Take a warm bath or shower
- Write in a journal
- Doodle on a sketchpad
- Sip a cup of herbal tea
Play around with the suggestions above until you find a routine that works for you. Your goal is to “signal” your body that it’s time to start unwinding and get ready for sleep.
Whichever activities you choose, try to do them at the same time every night. Eventually, your body will catch on.
8. Try Natural Sleep Remedies
Are you having trouble falling or staying asleep? You might need to “enhance” your bedtime routine with a natural sleep remedy.
Supplements like melatonin, chamomile, or valerian root do the trick for some people. You can also look for a sleepytime herbal tea blend and make that part of your nightly routine. (Be sure to check with your doctor before trying any new supplements.)
Others respond well to calming scents like lavender, vanilla, or bergamot. Dab a few drops of diluted essential oil on your skin or use an aromatherapy diffuser in your bedroom. You’ll be counting sheep in no time!
9. Don’t Watch the Clock
Hopefully your bedtime routine will lull you to sleep without any delay. But what if you still occasionally have trouble falling asleep?
The worst thing you can do is lay there and stare at the clock. With each passing minute, you’ll only feel more anxious. If there’s a clock on your nightstand, turn it away from you so you aren’t watching the minutes tick by.
Give yourself 20-30 minutes to unwind and fall asleep. If it’s not happening in that amount of time, get up and do something quiet and peaceful. Avoid turning on the TV or computer, as the blue light will only make it harder to fall asleep.
Meditate, read a short chapter, or sip on some tea. When you start to feel drowsy, return to your bedroom and try to sleep again.
The Best Bedtime Routine for Adults: Now You Know
Kids aren’t the only ones who need a bedtime routine. Adults can also benefit from creating a few healthy habits in the evening.
Limit caffeine, alcohol, and exposure to blue light as the day turns into night. Introduce relaxing habits like aromatherapy, meditation, herbal tea, or soft music.
And, of course, you need to transform your bedroom into an inviting oasis for sleep. Aside from making it dark, cool, and quiet, you also need the perfect mattress.
Click here to learn more about memory foam mattresses and how they’re designed to give you a great night’s sleep.
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