The Ultimate Bedtime Routine to Help You Sleep!
Why a good bedtime routine should be top of our daily to-do list
There’s no question that most of us aren’t getting enough sleep. According to the Sleep Council nearly half of us are getting just six hours sleep or less a night. And an alarming four out of five people complain of disturbed or inadequate sleep! The sleeping sweet spot is closer to seven to nine hours per night all days of the week, and anything less can have a profoundly negative impact upon your health and puts us into the insomniac category.
To top it all, chronic lack of sleep lowers immune-system functioning and increases one’s risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Lack of sleep also negatively impacts cognition, impairing memory, judgement and concentration. So –
Even if you can class yourself as part-time insomniac this blog is SO for you! With some simple but key lifestyle modifications you can really change all this, and creating your own bedtime routine is the very first step!
It will help you sleep in several ways:
- If your mind is very active when you go to bed, a routine can help calm it down before you get into bed.
- The time in bed is sometimes the only quiet thinking time we allow ourselves. Thinking can keep you awake though, so it’s better to do it beforehand.
- By repeating a regular pattern, you condition your body and mind to realise that it’s time to go to sleep.
- Many activities people do in the evening can be overstimulating. So a bedtime routine helps you avoid doing those things and relax instead.
So… Where do I start?
How long should my routine be you ask? Well realistically, it’s up to you to decide how long your routine will be based on the amount of time you feel it takes you to unwind. Your life circumstances will also help shape the way your routine goes. It may be, for example, that by the time you’ve put kids to bed and tidied up, 15 minutes is plenty enough time. If you have several hours in the evening to spend how you choose though, and are suffering from serious sleep problems, maybe an hour is a better amount of time – the choice is essentially yours!
So what exactly is a bedtime routine?
The key is that this should be a quiet, relaxing and enjoyable time. So the routine will of course differ from person to person. And maybe you’ll want to try more than one of the suggestions here too? These are just some ideas to help you decide:
Switch off the electronic devices
Before looking at activities you can do as part of your bedtime routine, you may find it beneficial to change the way you use electronic devices. In the modern age, most people love their electronic equipment. Whether it’s a TV, computer, tablet, mobile phone or games console, they take up a lot of our time. However, it’s a good idea not to use them during the hour before going to sleep. These are the main (quite obvious reasons) why:
- They stimulate your brain.
- The light some devices emit can interfere with your internal body clock.
- They can be addictive, eating into even more sleep time.
- Checking work emails at night can create worry and stress.
Relaxation exercises: breathing & mindfulness
Many people say they can’t fall asleep because of their busy mind. Whilst others say it is worry, stress or anxiety keeping them up. If you struggle with this too, then definitely doing some relaxation exercises before you go to bed, or when in bed, can help enormously. There are many different techniques you can try – we have some great downloads and CD’s if you want to find out more just email us at email@example.com
Listen to an audio / music
Whilst it’s important to avoid screens, listening to music before bed is a great idea. Preferably not music which is too exciting or emotional though. Most of us love music, but how often do you take time to do literally nothing but listen to some music? I know personally that I wish I did this more. There are some great, very simple FREE audios available now, just google meditation music and sounds of nature to get you started.
Popular classical music includes:
- 1. Moonlight Sonata by Ludwig van Beethoven
- 2. Gymnopédie No.1 by Erik Satie
- 3. Symphony 9, 3rd movement, Adagio molto e cantabile by Ludwig van Beethoven
- 4. Clair De Lune – by Claude Debussy
- 5. Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068 by Johann Sebastian Bach
- 6. Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- 7. Serenade no.10 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- 8. Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber
- 9. Canon in D by Pachelbel
- 10. Méditation from the opera Thaïs by Jules Massenet
We already know that obtaining enough quality sleep is important for both physical and mental health. It can also improve productivity and overall quality of life. Everyone can benefit from practicing good sleep habits and hygiene
So what is sleep hygiene I hear you ask?
Sleep hygiene is a variety of different practices and habits that are necessary to have good nighttime sleep quality and full daytime alertness. Here a few sleep hygiene basics to support your routine:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (give or take 20 minutes).
- Don’t eat a heavy meal near bedtime as it can interfere with digestion. Also, avoid caffeine and alcohol as well, which can interrupt sleep in the middle of the night
- Keep all blue light electronics out of the bedroom. That includes TV, smartphones and tablets.
- Exercise regularly (see activity guidelines in our previous February and April blogs for pointers here) but not right before bed if it tends to rev you up instead of calm you down
- If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep after five to 10 minutes, get out of bed and sit quietly in another room (don’t turn on electronics).
To help you along the way just remind yourself it will take time to build your own successful bedtime routine. Right now, take stock of your current sleep habits and identify any negative factors. The biggest culprits tend to be TV and social media and sedneatry lifetyles.
To summarise there’s no question that most people aren’t getting enough sleep. Most of us (more than one third of the population) are sleeping less than seven hours a night. The sleeping sweet spot is closer to seven to nine hours per night, all days of the week, and anything less can have a profoundly negative impact upon your health. In fact, chronic lack of sleep lowers immune-system functioning and increases one’s risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. Lack of sleep also negatively impacts cognition, impairing memory, judgment and concentration.
This has to be the best motivator of all!
Creating a bed time routine by making just some of the changes above to your sleep habits will reap big dividends! We look forward to hearing how you get on! If you are interested in achieving optimal health and are keen to find out more about our Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment – check the link below. It is a complete health and wellness check that reveals the link between your lifestyle and your performance. With personalised stress and recovery profiles you will learn how to manage your sleep and also stress levels….
Did you know that lack of sleep weakens our resistance? According to various recent studies, abbreviated sleep and being overweight are also related. In addition to being overweight, lack of sleep is also a risk factor for diabetes. Studies have also found that sleep difficulties doubled the risk of fatal occupational accidents. Furthermore, shift workers have a higher incidence of coronary heart disease, stroke, and reproductive disturbances than day workers. Make sure you are not one of these statistics – lastly a summary from 5744 pre-questionnaires, filled by Firstbeat Lifestyle Assessment participants, shows that 34% of the people did not feel that they sleep enough.
Is this you? Would you like to find out more? If so then click on the link below: