3 Keys to a Bedtime Routine for Better Sleep
Anyone looking to feel better rested? LOL; Ok, maybe a better question is, anyone NOT looking to feel better rested? :)
We all know that healthy adults should get 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function optimally throughout the day (Mayo Clinic; National Sleep Foundation). What many of us don’t know how to do, or don’t practice, is setting ourselves up to get a QUALITY 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Establishing a bedtime routine is essential to a healthy, high quality night of sleep. Do you already have a bedtime routine? If yes, awesome; I hope this helps you sharpen it even further. If not, l hope this helps you start the process.
These are 3 keys to a bedtime routine for better sleep.
1. Set your time frame and stick with it!
If you know that you want to get to bed by 10 pm, determine the length of your bedtime routine (give yourself plenty of time for a relaxed routine) and set your start time accordingly. For example, if your routine takes an hour, you will want to start by 9 pm.
Begin by mapping out your routine in full. Write down all of the end of day bedtime routine activities that you need/want to do and the time it takes to do each - you might be surprised, I know I was.
For example, here’s mine:
Total time ~2 hours & 20 minutes! WHOA! But all of these are activities that I need/want to do at the end of each day to set myself up for the next day.
-Read to Lucy (my little), tuck her in, and sing her “the song”: 20-minutes
-Organize workout clothes & accessories for morning workout: 5-minutes
-Quick clean up of house, etc.: 10-minutes
-Catch up on texts/messages, social media, etc.*: 30-minutes
-Organize next day: 10-minutes
-Spend relaxed time with Nate (my partner): 45-60-minutes
-Skincare & brush teeth: 5-minutes
-PJs & in bed: 5-minutes
*for phone and/or TV time at the end of the day, I have started wearing blue light blocking glasses (as well as setting my phone to night mode), and I have noticed an improvement in my sleep quality as a result.
What does your routine look like?
Will you be able to commit to this routine 7 nights a week, 52 weeks a year? Of course not, but at least it gives you a framework to work with and an ideal to aim for whenever it is within your control.
2. Integrate at least two things you REALLY enjoy into your routine.
Do you love to read? Take a bubble bath? Watch your favorite show(s)?
Integrate these things into your bedtime routine so that you look forward to starting your routine - this will make you more likely to start your routine when you intend to.
Better yet, recruit your family members to get involved and help hold you accountable.
My husband is really good at this. On nights when we want to watch “our show”, he’ll say, “Ok, babe, we have to be watching by 9 at the latest if we’re going to watch tonight.” Of course, in the moment I’m like, “Don’t rush me!”, but then I thank him and call my favorite spot on the couch.
If you really love your skincare routine, organize all of your products so that they are easy to access and you can take your time and enjoy.
Whatever the last step in your bedtime routine, incorporate some deep breathing into the process - literally take 5 deep breaths in and out as you wrap up. Deep breathing elicits a relaxation response and sends the message to your mind that it is time to chill out.
3. Set boundaries!
Once you have outlined your bedtime routine, start to think about potential obstacles that might disrupt your plan, and then set some boundaries as needed.
For example, if you know that bringing your phone into bed will result in scrolling and not stopping until you realize it’s WAY PAST your bedtime, create a NO PHONE IN BED boundary.
Maybe it’s your favorite show - you know that you cannot resist just “one more episode.”
Or, set a boundary around when phone or TV time stops - maybe 30-minutes before bedtime. And, even then, I recommend using blue light blocking glasses so that your body’s natural hormone rhythms (i.e. melatonin) stay intact.
Another boundary you may need to set, though perhaps less likely during the pandemic, is when you are going to be home to start your bedtime routine if you are out with friends or at an event, etc. Ask for your friends help and accountability at the beginning of the hang. You can say something like, “Hey, I am working really hard to get good sleep. I’ll need to head out by 8:30 pm. Please help me stick to that.” Of course, there will be times when staying to hang is a higher priority that your bedtime routine, and if so, you can embrace that choice gladly.
Sometimes it’s worth stepping out of routine, and sometimes it’s unavoidable. The key is to bounce back and re-establish your routine as soon as possible.
Happy sleeping my friends! Wishing you a wonderful night of sleep, and a solid routine to get you there.