Want Sleep? Try These 3 Easy Ways to Create a Soothing Bedtime Routine
Bedtime routines usually bring to mind a bedtime story and cuddling with a stuffed animal, but they aren’t only for kids. Between getting home from work, grocery shopping, extracurricular activities, making dinner, cleaning, and overseeing homework, you can find yourself more stressed in the evening than at any other time during the day. A soothing bedtime routine might be just what you need to relax so that you can get the rest you need.
1. Prepare Before Bedtime
Preparing for restful sleep starts long before bedtime. Help yourself by creating the right conditions for your body to relax. A few good ways to start include:
Turning off screens — The light from a television, smartphone, laptop, e-reader, or other electronic devices can signal the brain that it’s time to be awake. Shut off screens at least one hour before bedtime.
Avoiding alcohol and caffeine — Stop drinking caffeine a few hours before bedtime. While alcohol may make you feel sleepy, it often interrupts the sleep cycle during the night.
Exercising early in the day — Exercise raises your heartbeat, body temperature, and releases endorphins, all of which energize you—and keep you awake.
2. Set a Consistent Bedtime
Try to keep a consistent bedtime for both weekdays and weekends so that when you lie down your body is already prepared for sleep. That means you should start your bedtime routine as close to the same time as possible. Consistency is key to helping your body set its natural circadian rhythms.
3. Keep It Simple and Relaxing
To help signal your body that it’s time for sleep, do the same activities in the same order. What the routine includes is up to you as long as the activities help bring your mind and body to a state of calm. A few ideas you might want to consider:
Warm bath — Taking a warm bath artificially raises your body temperature. Following up with a rapid cooling response can make you sleepy. The lowering of your body temperature is a natural part of setting your circadian rhythms.
Quiet pondering or prayer — Take a moment to breathe deeply and spend a few moments in prayer or pondering your favorite Scripture verse to put the events of your day into perspective.
Journaling — Writing in a journal each night gives you time to reflect on events and feelings surrounding your day. Putting ideas and thoughts on paper often helps you leave some of the stress on the page.
Reading or listening to an audiobook — Reading can help your mind and body relax. Use a print copy, or listen and let your mind wander into sleep.
Alicia Sanchez is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com with a specialty in health and wellness. A Nashville native, Alicia finds the sound of summer storms so soothing that she still sleeps with recorded rain on her white noise machine.