Have you slept well tonight? Most probably, not. You worked a bit late, came home, and plunged onto the couch to watch Netflix. Being too tired to pick up the remote, you ended up scrolling Instagram because you were already holding the phone. Been there, done that.
You might be as furious as we are to “lose” more than ⅓ of your life in the dream world, but missing the shut-eye makes you groggy, inattentive, and sometimes overweight. In fact, according to a study, 16% of fatal car accidents happen because of drowsy driving.
After Matthew Walker published his best-selling book, “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams,” the restless self-help world exploded. An entire industry, previously exclusive to athletes and Olympians, became mainstream.
Everybody started giving out advice on fixing your broken relationship with sleep, the main point being the nighttime routine improvement. While we don’t guarantee that this article will magically fix your shut-eye, you should get a few actionable tips along the way.
We hate to break it to you, but a night routine starts much earlier than you think. Some choices you make can and will impact your sleep quality. “Getting ready to sleep,” in this case, means managing your energy levels during the day so that you’re tired enough to fall asleep when the time comes.
Eat Healthy and Exercise
Some foods are fatty and need longer to digest, and some beverages (we’re looking at you, coffee) boost energy, impacting your body in ways incompatible with sleep.
The same goes for exercise: a regular workout in the morning or the afternoon helps you manage the energy reserves for the rest of the day. However, nothing good will come out of squeezing in cardio at 9 PM.
The trick is learning what your body wants and finding a comfortable balance to maximize sleep quality.
Two to three hours before your bedtime is when your body starts getting ready for the night. It produces melatonin, the sleep hormone, which is the central player in regulating your body’s circadian rhythm.
Darkness is what prompts its production in the pineal gland. However, most of the time, we rob it from occurring naturally. We spend our evenings exposed to bright blue light from the screens, scrolling social media, or watching movies to ‘unwind.’
The smart thing is to limit any stimulating activity, helping your mind and body return to the default setting.
Find Your Favorite Peaceful Activity
The possibilities are endless here; anything from reading a book to stretching can work. Whether you choose to set up a to-do list for tomorrow, tidy up, or meditate, the selected activity should contribute to slowing down, sorting through your thoughts, and digesting the day.
If you’re feeling particularly fancy, try out a warm bath with lavender oil.
The Sacred Sleep Area
Suppose you’ve done everything as we’ve described. Now, you’d be in good shape to fall asleep faster. However, getting to sleep is one thing, and having fewer interruptions is another. Your bedroom environment has a lot of power and untapped potential for better rest quality.
Keep Your Bedroom Comfy, Fresh, and Cool
You won’t know how an excellent bed can improve your sleep until you try one. Choosing the right mattress and pillow combination is a very personal task. Before you get too confused, consider the following questions:
- Do you sleep alone or with a partner?
- How much do you toss and turn?
- What’s your favorite sleep position?
You’ll find a lot of excellent articles about this topic on the internet. For example, experts from ThisOldHouse.com mention certain models for side-sleepers. Do your research and head to the shop to try out the shortlisted options. Mattress companies also give out crazy trial periods with a money-back guarantee, so you’re more likely to land the best choice.
Ideally, your bedroom temperature should be between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Opening your bedroom window and letting in the fresh and cold evening air should become a part of your winding-down practice. You can even use this opportunity to master a relaxing breathing technique.
With night routines, balance, simplicity, and consistency are the key ingredients. And remember: sleep isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity.