It is estimated that approximately 35% of American adults sleep for less than 7 hours a day. This means, that 35% of American adults are experiencing less than optimal levels of rest. Between work, stress and often just poor sleeping habits, we’ve compromised on sleep. However, a good night’s rest is essential for all of our well-being and ensures that our minds and bodies receive the rest they deserve.
So, if you’re one of the many people who’ve developed poor sleeping habits over time, here are 9 things to do before bed to help you get a good night’s sleep:
Say No to Long Daytime Naps
Yes, this can be especially hard to do, if you’ve already accustomed yourself to daily naps. However, the science is certain on this one, and you’ve got two alternatives to choose from.
One is you can give up on naps altogether. The second one is, you can take short, but regular naps of approximately 30 minutes during the day. If you choose the latter, make sure that it isn’t taken too soon before you hit the sack.
Listen to Soothing Music
Listening to some relaxing music can be a great way for your mind to drift into the night. That being said, it’s a good idea to create a short playlist that will automatically tune out after a few songs. Some apps even have special “sleep mode” options that allow the music player to gradually lower its volume, and eventually, tune out.
Who doesn’t love a good smelling room, right? Well, aromatherapy is also a great way to help your mind and body to relax, which is great if you’re aiming for a long, restful night. If you’re not sure what kind of smells you like, experiment with a bunch of different essential oils, until you hit that sweet spot.
Then invest in a good, safe diffuser and brace yourself for some sweet-smelling dreams!
If you’re the kind of person who finds it extremely difficult to relax your body before bed, some simple stretching might help. Wait until ten to fifteen minutes before your intended sleeping time, and do some simple body stretches. Don’t opt for anything too vigorous or complicated, the easier the better.
Choose the kind of exercises that are easy to do in bed. That way you won’t have any excuses to not do them every night.
Not Too Hungry, Not Too Full
No one likes sleeping hungry, but that’s no reason to go to the other extreme, is it? If a good night’s sleep is what you want, aim for feeling satisfied, that beautiful sweet spot between feeling starved and feeling like your tummy’s about to explode.
Not only will you feel well-rested when you wake up, but it’s a healthy dietary practice as well.
Set the Bed-Time Scene
So your mind wants to sleep, but maybe your body’s having a hard time recognizing that it’s bedtime. What do you do? You make it feel like it is.
Change your environment before you go to bed, and make it actually look like bedtime. Dim the lights down, declutter your bed, take a warm shower, and create a soothing atmosphere. Doing this regularly will accustom your body to recognizing “sleep time”.
Now let’s consider a different scenario. Your body wants to sleep, but your mind is throwing a hissy fit. Don’t be hard on yourself, take a few minutes to meditate instead.
You can either do this in bed with the help of some an app like Headspace or sit by yourself a few minutes before you hit the sack and simply practice some focus exercises.
Limit Your Screentime
Of all the things I’ve mentioned, I recognize that this one might just be the hardest. However, difficult doesn’t mean impossible, right?
Now, one thing you can do is switch to audio instead of visuals. For example, opt for a podcast or an audiobook instead of watching re-runs of Arrested Development. The second thing you can do is ask a roommate/ significant other/ nagging parent to keep your laptop or cellphone out of reach, after a certain time.
If you want a night-time routine to stick, you’ve got to be consistent with it. Choose a good time to sleep, and try and be as consistent as possible. Similarly, make sure you wake up approximately the same time every day.
Generally, between 10:00 and 6:00, is considered the best time to sleep. Even if this doesn’t work with your work schedule, do try and aim for around 7-8 hours of sleep every 24 hours, at approximately the same time.
Also, aim for consistency within your night-time routine. Whether it’s the stretches, the aromatherapy, your medication or these great sleeping patches from PatchMD, know your routine and stick to it.
It always takes time to adjust to new routines. So, if you find it hard to stick to your list of things to do before bed at first, don’t be too hard on yourself. However, if you notice no improvement whatsoever after 4 weeks or so, it might be time to see a doctor.
If you’re someone who’s dealing with acute stress, anxiety or clinical insomnia, it is best to see a qualified sleep clinician or psychiatrist for help.
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