Do You Have a Bedtime Routine?

Sticking to a bedtime routine can improve sleep quality for adults.

Now that the kids are back to school, everyone is getting back into their routines.  We know that children thrive with structure and routine. That’s why so many of us have a bedtime routine for our kids.  It might involve a bath, reading stories and getting tucked in before the lights go out.  Well, it turns out having a bedtime routine isn’t just for young children.  Sleep experts agree that sticking to a nightly ritual can improve sleep quality for adults, too.  Start with these tips and personalize them so they fit your needs and preferences.

  1. Unwind – You will have a hard time falling asleep if you’re still up doing dishes and folding laundry at 10:00pm.  At least an hour before going to bed, you should start to unwind.  Turn off electronics and refrain from anything that won’t allow you to relax.  Let your mind shift from daytime mode to nighttime mode.
  2. Eat an Early Dinner – Avoid eating a large meal late at night.  If you don’t get home from work until late, consider changing your lunch and dinner routine.  Eat a larger, dinner-like lunch mid-day and then have a lighter dinner when you get home.  It can take some time to make the shift, but it can definitely improve your sleep.
  3. Limit Liquids – You may think that a glass of wine is going to help you fall asleep.  But it can negatively affect your sleep quality and you’re more likely to wake up during the night.  Avoid caffeine after 2pm as it can also wreak havoc on your sleep rhythm.  And lastly, try not to drink too much liquid late in the evening as you’ll probably have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. A hot cup of tea a few hours before bed can help you relax.
  4. Relax – This isn’t the same thing as unwinding.  Instead, relax means find something that helps calm you, whether it’s deep breathing, yoga or meditation and actively relax your body to ready yourself for sleep. Not sure where to start?  There are plenty of free apps you can download on your phone to get you started.
  5. Schedule Sleep – It’s hard for your body to adjust when you’re constantly changing your sleep schedule.  Try to go to bed at the same time during the week at a minimum.  It’s okay to stay up a little later on the weekend and sleep in a little longer, but by Sunday evening, you should begin to get back into your weeknight routine.
  6. Avoid Late Naps – We know you’re tired when you come home from work.  But if you find yourself dozing on the couch early in the evening, you’re going to doom yourself for the rest of the night.  Try to stay active until it’s time to unwind, and then don’t let yourself fall asleep on the couch in front of the TV.  If you start to nod off, your body is telling you it’s time to go to bed. Listen!
  7. Write it Down – Have you had a stressful day?  Are thoughts swirling around in your head?  That can make sleeping difficult.  Before heading off to bed consider writing down whatever is on your mind.  Putting it on paper gets it out of your head and may help you relax.
  8. Aromatherapy – Try the calming scents of lavender, juniper, marjoram, rose and sandalwood.  They can have a sedative effect when inhaled. Diffusers have become quite popular and can be filled with essential oils containing these relaxing scents.

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