Remember when you were a child, and you were sent to bed with warm milk and a book? It seems like we value our sleep less and less as we age.
A far cry from the warm milk and book duo, some of us fall asleep after hours of scrolling through our phone in the dark. In our fast-paced world where we boast about working late into the night, our sleep habits are, simply put, terrible.
So how do we fix this? Is there an ideal adult bedtime routine, and if so – how do we implement it?
This guide, we’ll cover all this and more, so you can get the perfect amount of ‘Zzz’s.
- 1 The Statistics
- 2 Fixing Your Sleeping Habits
- 3 Tips to Getting Your Bedtime Routine to Stick
- 4 How to Make a Night Time Routine
- 5 How to Relax Before Bed
- 6 You Deserve a Good Night’s Rest
Sleep Cycle gathered data on time spent sleeping from 48 different countries. Out of all these countries, not one reached the average 8 hours recommended.
As a matter of fact, our worldwide average is only 7 hours and 2 minutes, barely coming close to the recommended 8 hours per night. But should we really be so concerned about sleep?
Study after study has shown that lack of sleep has an adverse effect on our health in many aspects. Sleep deprivation puts you at a greater risk for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and weight gain.
Those functioning on less sleep will also have trouble with memory, concentration, as well as other problem-solving skills.
Furthermore, you’re susceptible to falling ill because of a weakened immune system and are more prone to accidents.
Fixing Your Sleeping Habits
There are many people who, knowing they get too little sleep, try to rest earlier in the evening, only to realize that they just can’t crash out. Some people would call it a hopeless, unfixable cause.
The main solution to a lack of sleep is creating a night time routine. A nighttime routine is a series of activities that you do before going to bed.
They are habits that you perform repeatedly and consistently. It may be as simple as drinking a cup of milk and brushing your teeth or choosing to read.
However you want your bedtime routine to look, the most important thing is to do it consistently.
Tips to Getting Your Bedtime Routine to Stick
Here are a few tips and tricks to get your evening routine ingrained into your daily life.
Keep to the Schedule
When making a nighttime routine, it’s important to stick to the schedule. Create habits that happen at the same time every day.
Start with figuring out how much time in the evenings you have to yourself, and how soon it’s needed to get to bed.
If you have kids that must be tucked in, pushing your bedtime, as a result, make sure that your routine fits that timeframe.
Most importantly, go to bed and get out of bed on a regular schedule. If you have to turn in late one night, try to wake up at your designated time anyhow, and nap as necessary. This will ensure that no matter how ‘’bad” your sleeping habits get, it’s easier to find the rhythm once more.
Watch What You Eat
We all know to avoid coffee before bed. But did you know that caffeine can be found in other, less obvious places?
Some foods that contain caffeine are chocolate, ice cream, and pudding. Even some medications contain this energy-boosting ingredient, such as pain or headache relievers.
In addition, note that caffeine can stay in the body for up to six hours. It’s also wise to account for your body’s natural circadian rhythm when ingesting foods that make you more or less awake.
Working with the chemicals that your body naturally produces can help optimize your energy, whether you’re supplementing with coffee or sleeping pills. Here is a more in-depth explanation on the subject.
Avoid Napping Too Much
Not all naps are made equal. Sometimes, they can even keep you awake past your bedtime! How do you make sure that they work for you, and not against you?
To understand naps, we need to keep in mind that sleep occurs in cycles, each one giving you a deeper rest than the other.
You’ve probably experienced being rudely awakened by an alarm clock and feeling groggy, worse than before you fell asleep. Chances are, you were in the REM stage, the deepest stage of sleep there is.
The trick to effective naps is to avoid this stage; do not nap longer than thirty minutes.
Track Your Habits
Tracking your habits can help you be aware of why you’ve missed them, as well as provide an incentive to remain on schedule.
To keep track of habits, you can go with the traditional route of using pen and paper. You can also use one of the many apps available for your smartphone.
There are several apps to choose from, each with their own technique for keeping you on track; you may need to check out a few before discovering one that’s effective for you.
To find the perfect habit tracker, remember that it should be as unobtrusive to your routine as possible. Keep it simple, accessible, and most importantly – uniquely effective for you.
Tailor it to Your Own Needs
Just like ensuring that your routine fits your time limitations, remember to tailor your routine to the activities you deem necessary. Maybe you really need to stretch before sleeping or you have to check if you have extra blankets.
Don’t let anyone tell you that your routine is too much; no matter how silly or unnecessary it may feel, remember that what works for others may not work for you.
This video has some more information on how to better your nighttime routine.
How to Make a Night Time Routine
Now that we know how to make our routine stick, how do we develop the night time routine itself?
While each will differ from person to person, here are a few guidelines to create a sleep routine that works for you.
Turn Off Electronics
Technology can help you stick to your habits, but most of the time, it works against us. It’s also not helpful that apps (sleep-centric or otherwise) are purposefully designed to keep us on our phones.
Turning off electronics at least half an hour before bed will help your brain relax, setting you up for a better night’s rest.
As a matter of fact, it’s wise to shut off your phones and tablets as soon as you start your bedtime routine, so as to ensure you aren’t distracted by notifications. If you really need to kick the habit, try putting your phone in another room.
If you really have to use your phone before going to sleep (maybe you have to check your calendar for the next day, or look at your to-do list,) install a blue-light filter.
Blue-spectrum light suppresses melatonin (a hormone naturally produced by the body to make you sleepy).
Putting a blue light filter on your phone and desktop can help ensure you don’t keep scrolling for hours on end – well past your bedtime.
Ease into it
Besides turning off electronics, the core of your nighttime routine is to relax your brain, so that it can transition into sleep.
When crafting the perfect night time routine, don’t fill it with too many activities that rush you from one to the next. The goal of this system is to put your brain at ease.
Get Your Room Right
It’s not just what we do – it’s where we do it. Getting your room correctly organized can help you sleep deeply and soundly. But what exactly is the ‘right room’?
When it comes to sleep, dark, cool, and quiet is the key. Specifically, temperatures should be between 65 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (or 18 and 22 degrees Celsius).
Additionally, make sure that your room is well-ventilated; an open window will do the trick. Those in hotter areas can opt for a cooling mattress pad or a cooling pillow.
It’s also wise to keep your room as dark as possible. Close all the blinds and turn off the lights; if it’s impossible to have a completely darkened room, an eye mask can help you out.
However, if you’re one of the rare people who need a bit of light to fall asleep, a laptop set to enter sleep mode within a few minutes will work wonders.
The right noise levels can vary from person to person. There are those who can sleep through a fire alarm, while others need complete silence.
For most of us, a touch of noise is best when falling asleep. Since it’s such a personalized issue, it may take a few tweaks to get right.
If complete silence bothers you, try adding the drone of a fan, binaural beats, or calming music.
Give it Time
Developing a consistent nighttime routine can require trial and error, so remember to give yourself a bit of leeway.
Don’t be discouraged if your routine doesn’t work on the first try—you will need some time to adjust to new habits, as well as to change ineffective ones.
If you have trouble adjusting immediately, try adding one habit at a time. Start with something small, like brushing your teeth or turning off your electronics.
Then, after a few days of this practice, add another, and another, until you have the whole routine memorized.
How to Relax Before Bed
Making a bedtime routine for adults will depend on the lifestyle you lead, including the schedule that you have. But how exactly do you tailor a night time routine to suit your needs?
Here are a few ideas that can help jog up those creative juices; just remember to think out of the box!
Smell can be a great method of transitioning yourself from wakefulness to a state of sleep.
There are so many ways to add scents to your environment. The most common are air diffusers, which blow the scent of essential oils into the air.
You can also burn incense and scented candles. Just remember to blow out any burning candles before sleeping, and to provide enough ventilation.
Write it Down
We’ve all had nights where we’ve lied awake, thinking about a plethora of things. Racing thoughts aren’t the best way to fall asleep.
If tea doesn’t ease your nerves, perhaps writing down your concerns will help.
Whether it’s a freehand journal or a to-do list of all your anxieties, writing down your thoughts can free that space for more peaceful things.
You may also be one of the many people who get their best ideas just before they fall asleep. Don’t ruin your routine by getting out of bed.
Place a memo pad and a pen on your nightstand to jot down anything that comes to mind. …And then immediately flop back into bed.
As a child, you were probably read to before bed or thumbed through a book yourself before sleeping. Why not continue the habit?
It’s more than good for you; studies show that reading is the best way to lower stress levels. As a matter of fact, participants only needed 6 minutes of reading to calm their mind.
The main goal of meditation is to quiet a racing mind. It also incorporates breathing techniques that soothe the body at a parasympathetic level.
Meditation can be done with the aid of various apps or YouTube videos or done on your own.
This video shows some yoga you can add to your evening routine.
Showering has been shown to ease the brain to a state of sleep, especially warm showers.
It mimics the natural response that our bodies have of cooling down before bed, signaling our brain that it’s time to sleep.
On that note, it’s best to shower early in your nighttime routine, so as to give your body time to regulate its heat.
You Deserve a Good Night’s Rest
While it’s not ground-breaking, a good night’s rest can improve your life on a fundamental level. In our modern world where all-nighters are considered honorable, it can be hard to find a way to get better sleep.
However, you owe it to your body to keep yourself healthy and well-rested. So, put on your PJs and get snoozing. You deserve it!
Do you have a sleep routine?