In an ideal world, I’d bet all of us would love to have more consistency in our sleep schedule. Half of adults don’t get enough shut-eye, with many admitting to lying awake at night fretting about their worries. I know it’s a struggle for me to get six to seven hours that help me feel my best. I am trying to get seven to eight hours every night and it seems the key is to have a wind down routine.
Even if its brief — just five minutes — having that routine will mentally prepare for and prioritize sleep. It also prompts an interesting mindset switch of sleep: you will begin to discover you can prepare for sleep in the same way that you prepare for physical training.
Having a regular routine, and the same bedtime each night, are important components of healthy sleep practices. I try to keep my own routine regular and make it a priority to get at least seven hours of sleep. I turn off the light by about 10. It’s important to have a bit of a buffer from the chaos of our day, and to wind down and relax to allow you to get that quality of rest you need.
It’s also a good idea to set a reminder alarm on your phone to remind you when to start to wind down and to stay on target for bedtime. If you set the alarm for a half-hour before bedtime, when it goes off, it will trigger the reminder that you have 30 minutes to wrap up your day and send that last email, pay the bill you’ve been meaning to pay all day and get a to-do list for the next day sorted.
For some people about an hour before bedtime, they will have warm tea and read or a bit of prayer or gratitude quiet time to wind down. Researchers at the University of Sussex found that just six minutes of reading per day can reduce stress levels by 68%. Reading can also improve your memory and increase your productivity.
In the chaos of the day, it’s good to have a designated quiet time. Many say it’s the little bit of the day they look forward to, because it gives a chance to relax and reflect.
Research shows that powering down technology to minimize exposure to blue light — which can negatively impact sleep quality is vital.. Scientists now know blue light suppresses the release of melatonin, the hormone that tells the body it’s time for sleep.
It’s a good idea to get off of all devices—physically flip over your phone so it goes into ‘Do not disturb’ mode.
You can also do stretch and breathing exercises. Do breathing exercises in a dimly lit, cool, quiet room to prepare for sleep. Even though stretching is active, you can partner the deep breathing exercises with it to activate your parasympathetic system and start the transition to sleep.
Next, focus on your sleep environment Most people don’t give much thought to the aesthetics of their snoozing space, but you’d be surprised how big of a difference it makes — keep it quiet, dark and cool — since research shows that is a factor. Research also shows that things like fresh sheets can easily make your slumbering experience better, and 71% of people surveyed said they sleep better when their sheets are clean. To give yourself the best chance of a good night’s sleep, consider your bed as a place for sleep and sleep alone – most nights at least.
Then, stick to the same wind-down routine because that consistency helps, although it’s not just about what we do in the evening. Sleep quality is also about the choices that we make during the day.
If you plan on taking a power nap during the day, try to be mindful of the length —aim for 20 to 30 minutes and limit caffeine or alcohol intake, since research shows that the latter can harm REM sleep.
All those things really contribute to how you’re going to sleep at night, along with what you do the hour before bed.