Tossing and turning, staring at the clock, and getting up to get a glass of water are all telltale signs of struggling to get to sleep. Not having a good sleep schedule or sleeping routine can really affect how you sleep each night. With National Sleep Week just a few weeks away, it is important to highlight ways to make healthy sleeping accessible consistently and easily.
Create a bedtime ritual
Setting aside time at night to get ready for bed will help put you in the right mindset for getting the best sleep. Creating a routine of relaxing activities helps your brain separate your day from your night, helps you get comfortable with making a consistent schedule, and reminds you to put you and your health first. Taking a shower, doing your nighttime skincare routine, reading or journaling, are just a few things you can do to help you wind down and prepare for sleep.
Being persistent with your sleep schedule will be vital to getting consistently restful sleep. Comparing how much sleep you should be getting to when you should be going to bed can be a math game that just leads to sleep anxiety. Utilizing tools like a bedtime calculator to help determine when to go to sleep can help you figure out the logistics without the stress.
Reduce screen time at night
Utilizing smartphones and watching television before bed affects the body’s circadian rhythm, also known as the body’s internal processes that regulate the sleep-wake cycle. The screens we use throughout the day emit blue light, which is a level of light that impacts your eyes and your sleep. When we use our devices at night, blue light hinders the body’s ability to produce melatonin, which aids in helping the body and brain fall asleep.
The best way to reduce the effects of blue light at night is to stop using screens at least an hour and a half before bedtime. This will give your body time to prepare for falling asleep easily. This is where you can read a book, write in a journal, even meditate in a screen-free environment. When you cannot avoid your phone or other devices in the hours before bed, buying anti blue light glasses can help mitigate the effects your screens have on your body’s circadian rhythm. Wearing these glasses along with putting your phone on “night mode” can limit the impact blue light has on your body.
Schedule your day wisely
How you spend your day affects how you will sleep at night. What you eat and what you do impacts how soundly you sleep. In regards to your diet, drinking alcohol or caffeine before bed could negatively impact how well you rest. Caffeine is a stimulant and will make it harder for you to fall asleep in the first place, whereas alcohol is a depressant and will affect your sleep cycle once you are already asleep.
Choosing when to exercise is also important to your sleep cycle. Make sure to schedule your workout at least 3 hours before your bedtime, as vigorous exercise stimulates your nervous system and increases your heart rate, making it difficult to fall asleep soundly afterward. Overall, creating a daily routine will be beneficial to your nightly routine and your overall wellness.
Design a good sleeping environment
Creating a bedroom that is a relaxing oasis will be a major help to your sleeping habits. The temperature of the room, the color, and the overall style of the room are all important to making you feel comfortable and relaxed in your space. Investing in accessories to help with sleep will also be key to making this bedroom the best sleeping room. Replacing your normal curtains with blackout curtains will limit the amount of light coming into the room when you are trying to sleep. You may also consider buying a sound machine to play white noise as you are falling asleep if you are a light sleeper.
When making this oasis, it is vital to make this room a room for sleeping. If you begin to work, lounge, or even eat your meals in your bedroom, the way your brain associates your bedroom with sleep will change drastically. You want your bed to signal to your brain that you are ready for sleep, so keep your work and eating to the common rooms of your home to ensure the sanctuary of your bedroom.
Taking the time to create a sleeping schedule and nightly routine will help foster healthy sleeping habits for a lifetime. Making your health and sleep a priority will ensure the longevity of the routines you create. So set your schedule, be mindful of screen time, and enjoy a good night's sleep!
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.