Sleeping is not just a regular habit that we need to do daily but a biological necessity. It’s something we have to do to give our body and brain time to reset and rejuvenate. But, in today’s fast-paced society, both sleep deprivation and insomnia are extremely common. This is because we are so caught up spending every waking minute busy with something, be it work, family life, or at the moment, homeschooling. The upshot is that even when we lie down in bed, the task of getting rest is challenging to say the least. We can’t get our minds to switch off, so we lie there, thoughts flying around our head instead of sleeping.
The importance of a bedtime routine
Sleep is very important in the development of our body. Usually, we need seven to eight hours of ‘good quality’ sleep every night so we can function at 100% during the day.
It’s well known, that lack of sleep can put us ‘off-kilter’ and affects us both physically and mentally. It makes us tired, confused, increases the chances of making bad decisions, taking unreasonable risks, and can lead to decreased productivity and increased procrastination!
Medical studies have shown that extreme cases of sleep deprivation may result in the weakening of muscle tissues and other problems usually related to physical overuse.
Women are more affected than men
Some recent findings have indicated that women are more affected by not sleeping than men. A regular lack of sleep showed a sharper increase in blood pressure for women, 42%, than men, 31%, although further research is required to see what other potential factors contributed to the results.
That’s a joyous thought, isn’t it? Especially seeing as women generally tend to lose the most sleep during early motherhood, as they are the ones getting up in the night. I’m sure my body’s still trying to recover from over four sleep-deprived years, yes four, when my son was born!!
Why a night-time bedtime routine could help you
We’re told that the best thing for babies are routines, especially when it comes to bedtime. Apparently, a bedtime routine is key to them sleeping better.
So why, when we reach adulthood does a bedtime routine go out the window? We live on a diet of late nights, early mornings, eating meals late at night and working up until bedtime. Is it any wonder that research, commissioned by Princess Cruises as part of its Global Relaxation Report, found that 51% of the global population are not getting enough sleep?
A soothing bedtime routine will help both mind and body relax and prepare you for bed and, more importantly, sleep. Followed consistently, a bedtime routine can be a significant sleep aid and help you learn to fall asleep naturally.
5 top tips to creating a bedtime sleep routine
Remember that any sleep improvement plan will take time for you to see a difference. Your body requires consistency and will adjust slowly to changes, therefore it’s an idea to stick to each new change to your routine for a week or two before adjusting it.
Create a sleep schedule
A sleep schedule should be your first goal when it comes to creating a bedtime routine. Keeping a regular sleep schedule means waking up at the same time each and every morning, even if you have the time to sleep longer. Sleeping longer in the morning will not make your feel more rested, it will make you feel groggy and disoriented.
As mentioned, we need seven to eight hours of sleep each night, but to be restful sleep, this needs to be balanced. You can’t make up for a late-night by sleeping in, lost sleep cannot be recovered. If that happens, the best course of action is to wake up at the same time as normal, push through the following day and resume your sleep schedule in the evening.
As well as waking up at the same time, a successful sleep schedule and the key to a bedtime routine is deciding on an actual bedtime and sticking to it.
Avoid daytime naps for a better bedtime routine
Tempting though it may be to close your eyes for a power nap as the blood sugar drops mid-afternoon, don’t!
Even the shortest naps during the day will confuse your body’s ability to differentiate between day and night sleeping.
So, to prevent you from nodding off, make an effort to stay active. When that mid-afternoon slump hits, go for a walk or eat a small piece of fruit to increase those energy levels and keep you going.
Create a calming bedroom
Your bedroom should be used for sleeping only.
Don’t take paperwork or your laptop in to do that ‘bit more work’ before you turn the lights off.
A good habit to get into is leaving all devices out of the bedroom. This is also a good habit for children to get into at an early age too.
Dimmer switches are a brilliant invention. Use them to dim the lights in the hours before you go to bed to mimic the change from daytime to night time.
Avoid stimulants in the hours before bed
Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are all stimulants that can make it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep. Caffeine can take six to eight hours to leave your system, so if you decide your ‘bedtime’ is 10 pm, your last coffee should be between 2 pm and 4 pm.
Vigorous exercise should also be avoided for at least one hour before bed. However, certain Yoga poses can help you rewind. These can be incorporated into a bedtime routine that will help fight insomnia and fall asleep faster.
Try some deep breathing
There are many breathing and relaxation techniques that you can learn to use to promote relaxation and reduce stress. The deeper and slower you breathe, the more relaxed and sedated you will become.
Relaxation techniques will help your body wind down in preparation for the sleep cycle. Here are a couple of techniques for you to try:
Breathing exercise for better bedtime routine
- Try this when you first get into bed
- Take a deep breath – breathe in through your nose and visualize the air moving down to your stomach and breathe out through the mouth
- Breathe in again through the nose on a count of 4
- Purse your lips and exhale through the mouth to a count of 8
- Repeat this process 6 to 10 times
The results of this breathing technique are immediate. You should feel less stressed as your shoulders and arms relax and your chest less constricted.
Remember consistency is key to a good sleep schedule, so practice this exercise daily and it will become natural and hopefully help induce sleep.
Relaxation exercise for better sleep routine
The goal here is to relax your mind and let your body unwind and surrender to sleep:
- Try this before you get into bed
- Lay on your back on the floor with your feet slightly apart, your hands by your sides and your palms turned upwards
- Close your eyes and concentrate on every part of your body
- The idea is to tense and release each muscle group
- Start with forehead, face and jaws, then move through the body working down to your toes
- This should help relax and reduce any tension being held in your body
- When you have finished, stay in the relaxed condition for a few minutes concentrating on your breathing, letting all the worry and stress dissipate from your mind and body
- Breathe deeply in slowly and evenly through the nose and out through the mouth
- Stretch slowly
- Roll over onto your side and get up slowly
This exercise will tell your body and mind that it is okay to relax and leave the stresses of the day behind.
Think positive thoughts as you design a sleep routine that is right for you. Remember, it will take time, but with consistency and determination, you can help yourself get a better night’s sleep.
Still, feel you want even more tips on how to get better sleep? Check this post out!
Until next time darlings.