Aug31How To Develop a Nighttime Routine For a Goodnight’s Sleep

One of the hardest things for many people is getting a simple restful sleep. The average human adult usually needs between 7-8 hours of sleep each night, with a little leeway for less or more depending on the individual. Sleep is our body’s way of repairing itself; while exercise and good nutrition definitely play a big role, without adequate rest all of that hard work won’t payoff as much.

The question becomes: how do you set yourself up to fall asleep, and have a good sleep at that?

 

Set Up a Nighttime Ritual

When you hear the word ritual, you might be thinking of something of the occult variety, but I’m not talking about seances cult-ish shenanigans; a nighttime ritual is where you have certain habits that perform before going to bed each night. Having a routine before bed can send signals to your brain telling you it’s time to get tired. The really important part is doing the right stuff before bed.

What you don’t want to do is do anything that is going to “wake up” the body. That would be things like:

  • doing an intense workout before bed
  • having excess light exposure (watching TV, having lights on, being on your phone)
  • drinking caffeine
  • not getting enough activity throughout the day
  • thoughts, worries, and anxiety

This list is not exhaustive. There are many reasons why you might have a hard time falling asleep, but there are certain things that you can do that can help facilitate a restful sleep.

#1. Get some physical activity earlier in the day.

Physical activity is super important if you want to sleep better! Aim for at least 30 minutes of some type of moderate intensity activity to get the body a little tired. Even if all you can do is go for a brisk walk, go for it! The only caveat is that you should aim to get activity in earlier in the day, because stimulating activity can keep you awake. So no late night workouts if you can help it!

What is OK is some light activity before bed, like a easy nighttime stroll or a quick stretching routine before hopping into bed. What this can do is hep relax the body, as you’re doing gentle, easy motions that can put you in a state of relaxation.

#2. Turing off all lights at least 1-2 hours before bed.

The body is an amazing thing. It has it’s own circadian rhythm, which helps it wake up and go to bed at regular time. In nature this works out pretty well, as animals wake up and go to sleep with the sun (except for those nocturnal creatures).

This difference now though is our environments are full of stimulating lights. Phones, TVs, computers, and room lights can keep your mind and body stimulated, messing with the production of melatonin, AKA the “sleep hormone”. I would recommend reading a book before bed, or write in a journal (more on that in a bit), and use dimming soft lights. If you must use your phone or electronic screens, try using a blue light filter that many phones comes with, or install it and have it set to come on at a certain time.

#3. Stay cool.

While everyone has their own idea on what a “cool” temperature is, it’s usually well agreed upon to sleep at a comfortable temperature that doesn’t wake you up in a hot sweat. 68 degrees is usually a sweet spot, and if you get a little chilly grab a thicker blanket.

If you have a significant other that disagrees with your choice of room temperature, grab a fan and have it directed only at you.

#4. Pick the right sleeping position.

Some people are back sleepers, while others are side sleepers. Some are belly sleepers, and others still do all 3, or some form of contortionist sleeping position. What’s important is picking the right position, and then enhancing that position.

By far, the best sleeping position is laying on your back, followed by side sleeping. If you are sleeping on your back, it lessens the pressure on the lower back and neck. Back still getting sore? Try propping up your legs a bit by putting a pillow or two under your knees, thus reducing pressure on the lower back even more. If you’re a side sleeper, place a pillow between the legs; better yet, get a body pillow that goes between the knees and arms, which keeps you in a more aligned position.

While some people do like sleeping on their belly, there isn’t much benefit to it. This is probably the worst position you could sleep in, besides sleeping upside down. The only benefits of belly sleeping is that it can reduce snoring, but it’s taxing on the lower back and neck.

#5. Get outside during the day.

Remember how I said the body has a circadian rhythm? We are meant to wake up an be in daylight, which is thought to help up get a better night’s sleep by increasing the production of melatonin at night. Aiming for 15-30 minutes a day of natural daylight can not only help with sleep, but it will also give you a boost of vitamin D!

What’s the perfect time to get outside? Try getting up an extra 15 minutes to get a short walk in, even if it’s only a few minutes. If you can, try to take your lunch break outside and get another small walk in. Even if you only are sitting outside, it’s better than being cooped up inside all day.

#6. “Mind-dump” by writing in a journal.

While writing in a journal sometimes carries a negative connotation, writing down your thoughts at the end of the day can act as a mental decompression of sorts. If you’re always thinking about the things that happened during the day, or are thinking about future tasks or events, writing them down and looking at them from a different light can ease the tensions you have about them.

Some of the greatest minds have written in journals, like Winston Churchill, Marie Curie, Leonardo da Vinci, and many more. If it was good enough for them, why not us? Also, let’s call it a journal and not a diary; it sounds so much cooler that way.

 

Sleep Well, Recover Well

Sleeping is the body’s way of healing itself. Without a goodnight’s rest, we won’t be recovering properly from tough workouts, or even the regular daily stresses that we go through. Sometimes the best thing we can do to set ourselves for a restful night is to have the right nighttime routine to get us in the best mood for a sleep session. If you need some help getting to sleep at night, try out some of these tips! If you know anyone that could use these tips, share away and pass this post along.