A good night’s sleep is essential to our health and wellbeing. Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep every night and teens need nine, yet studies show that far too many people don’t get the sleep they need. At least 35% of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep each night, and a whopping 97% of teenagers don’t get the nine hours they need. A lack of sleep compromises your performance at work, school, and play and can contribute to serious health problems - including obesity and diabetes.
Lack of sleep can also have a significant impact on your mood, especially if you are struggling with any type of mental health conflict.
If you struggle to get enough sleep, a soothing bedtime routine can help. Here are three important components of a good routine:
If you flew across three time zones, you would expect to be jet lagged, wouldn’t you? Well, when you dramatically change your sleep and wake times from night to night, it’s exactly the same.
Instead, go to bed and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends. This consistency helps set your body’s circadian rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep and improving the quality of your sleep.
Write Down Your Thoughts
If you find yourself lying awake and thinking about your worries or the next day’s to-do list, try writing down what’s on your mind before you get into bed. Spending just five or ten minutes writing down a to-do list, journaling about your worries, or simply recording the happenings of the day can help empty your mind of the thoughts that intrude when you are trying to sleep.
For relaxing bonus points, end your writing session by jotting down two or three things you are grateful for. Studies show that keeping a gratitude journal can boost your positivity and self-esteem, and help you sleep by putting you in a good frame of mind. Personally, I practice gratitude every chance I get. If you are new or looking for a routine, a gratitude journal is a great place to start.
Starting an hour or so before bed, start a relaxing ritual. If you develop a consistent bedtime routine, your brain will associate that routine with sleep, making it easier to drift off each night. Your soothing ritual could include:
· Drinking a warm cup of chamomile tea or hot milk
· A few minutes of gentle yoga, stretching, or foam rolling
· Reading a soothing book (no murder mysteries or other stressful topics)
· A warm bath with Epsom salts to soothe and relax muscles
· Relaxing crafts, such as knitting or origami
· Any other quiet activity you enjoy
Try to avoid loud noises, bright lights from screens and electronic devices, and stressful news or conversations in the hour before bed.
A consistent night-time routine can help you relax, put away the stresses of the day, and get to bed on time each night. After a few nights of a regular routine, you’ll fall asleep faster, sleep more deeply, and wake up refreshed and ready to go in the morning.