Why You Need Bedtime Rituals for Better Sleep

{HABIT: Sleep}
Month: 9 / Week: 4

Preparing your body for sleep can be as simple as designing a simple bedtime routine. And it might even make that sleep you get that much better.

sleeproutineMost of us have morning routines, even if it isn’t planned. Think about it– when you wake up, what’s one of the first things you want to do? Brush your teeth. It’s become a routine, a habit.  Maybe you also workout, drink coffee, have breakfast, walk the dog… What ever the case is, you probably have some sort of routine upon waking, even if it doesn’t always go as smoothly as you wish.

Why not do the same for going to sleep? Instead of just crashing from being overworked or dozing off to a reality show we didn’t even care about watching, create a routine that can help you fall asleep faster and stick to your sleep schedule for better quality sleep. Not to mention, you can use this time to wind down and treat yourself to some love and care. Because we all could use a little more of that.

Starting to prepare your body for sleep can begin as early as 6-8 hours before you even think about laying your head down on that pillow. Below are some general guidelines but keep in mind, each person is different. And you’ll have to do some experimenting to figure out how your body responds. I know for me, I need to stop caffeine around 4PM. I can still fall asleep if I have caffeine later but when I wake up the next day, I’m groggy and I remember my dreams better (because I wasn’t sleeping as deeply as I could have been)!

oatmealThe same goes for eating. Many people I know eat their largest meal at dinner time. Eating heavy meals before you go to sleep may help you fall asleep but you won’t necessarily get quality sleep. Your body will be working hard to digest the food you just ate and not working toward resting and restoring your energy like it would prefer. This doesn’t mean you can’t eat at all before you go to bed. Have a small snack an hour before laying down if you wish. Some research suggests that a little bit of complex carbohydrate before bed may actually improve your sleep. The best snack is one with fiber and low sugar– cheese and whole grain crackers, Greek yogurt with a bit of fruit, or a small bowl of oatmeal (my personal favorite).  This again will vary from person to person.  And it will take experimentation.

Your daily habits will influence the quality of your sleep. And this is why you need bedtime rituals for better sleep. For the best night’s sleep, pay attention to what you’re doing a few hours before bed and create a nighttime routine to help you wind down right before falling asleep.

6-8 hours before bed

  • Limit or avoid caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate)

3-4 hours before bed

  • Avoid strenuous exercise if possible
  • Limit alcohol consumption

1-2 hours before bed

  • Stop snacking or eating
  • Turn off electronics (phone, computer, television, iPads)
  • Shut down the work engines (no studying or working)

30 minutes before bed

  • Start your routine

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What should your routine consist of? That’s up to you! Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

  • Brush your teeth
  • Pack gym bag
  • Wash your face
  • Have Warm bath
  • Read
  • Write your thoughts
  • Stretch
  • Talk with your family
  • Pack the next day’s lunch
  • Pick out your work clothes
  • Count your blessings
  • Plan your next day (unless it stresses you out)
  • Meditate
  • Write your accomplishments of the day
  • Say affirmations
  • Have a cup of herbal (non-caffeinated) tea
What do you do to prepare for bed? Share below!
CHALLENGE: Start a bed time ritual

New to the healthy habits challenge ? Start here.

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