The precursor to a healthy mind and body lies in our habits. Our habits are cultivated by routines we follow every single day. Undeniably, our habits are what make us. Thus, in a prolonged period, if our routines do not align with our future aspirations, it can lead to frustration and even health complications. This, in turn, can also entrap us in the unhealthy cycle of bad habits, which in far sight, affects our cognitive and physical functionality.
A Brief Overview
Do you find yourself having difficulty sleeping these days? You lay in bed before midnight to get adequate sleep but end up twisting and scrolling for hours? Well, fret not! There is a solution to this.
With the new year begins many new resolutions. Although every resolution comes with great dedication and benefits along the way, investing a minuscule of time by making a bedtime routine can help reset your clock each day, providing manifold benefits. But what exactly does it entail, and how do you make one to ensure the best outcome for yourself?
A bedtime routine is a set of activities you perform in the same order every night, in the 30 to 60 minutes before you go to bed. This can vary but often includes calming activities which instill sleep and help you get a comfortable and good night’s rest.
Let’s narrow it down a tad and help you curate a schedule that should cater to your individual self and day. If you have the dedicated mindset and the right tools to attain it, you can change your sleeping or any habit in a matter of weeks.
Why is it So Important?
Although humans are tailored to function round the clock, it is sometimes essential for the smooth functioning of the brain to build better habits and follow a routine. After all, it is our habits that make our day. And while the beginning of the day may not be under our control due to work obligations and other responsibilities, taking a step back to reflect on the day and taking a moment to release the steam built up throughout is a rewarding way to help yourself destress and unwind.
There are a lot of hormonal changes happening to us within a single day. As the day comes to a close, our body voluntarily adjusts to unwind and sleep. The production of melatonin helps us sleep better, but certain lifestyle choices these days have disrupted this natural process, causing people to experience insomnia, stress, and other health issues.
Building a good sleeping schedule can help absolve you from an unhealthy routine, inducing more energy, focus, and motivation to go on with the day. And in due course, it results in a higher success rate because you feel more present and prepared for whatever lies ahead. And while getting enough sleep is a simple lifestyle change that has benefits abound, many people find it difficult to follow a healthy sleeping pattern. Here’s when investing in building a bedtime routine comes into play as an effective method to help you feel ready and energized for the next day.
Below are some ways to help you follow a routine that will make you feel more present, aware, and alert throughout the day.
How to Get Started
While embarking on any new habit, it is essential that you start small and easy, and over time, once you’ve adjusted to the newer things, you can expand onto the next level with much ease. Hence, try not to overwhelm yourself by curating a complex routine. Try the replace and built method to inculcate new habits in your bedtime routine.
According to Dr. Maxwell Maltz’s book Psycho-Cybernetics, it takes about 21 days to break out of old habits and create new ones. Just make sure that your surroundings are in sync and supportive of your routine. So, for example, if your bedside table has a snacking cabinet, replace it with green tea bags or a kettle right away. This will trigger you to settle for a cup of green tea before bed each time you feel compelled to follow your old habits. But before going all in with your intended bedtime routine, remember that perfection is not what you seek in the first few weeks. It is about showing up every day to that commitment.
Read on to find out how certain lifestyle changes can significantly impact your sleep schedule.
1. Stick to a Consistent Schedule
Consistency is the key to many things in life. Whether you are trying to gain muscles, acquire a skill, or learn a new language or an instrument, showing up for yourself daily and mindfully is the first step toward consistency. Therefore, starting small is an ideal way you might want to start when embarking on this journey. Keeping it simple and easy will make you feel more accomplished and push you to add more things to your routine.
Set a consistent bedtime and wake-up time. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, will help regulate your body’s internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep at night. Following a consistent sleep routine helps you train your brain to naturally feel tired at bedtime.
2. Put Your Phone Down and Turn Off Your TV
We have all heard of the bad effects of the white light emitted from our gadgets’ screens. The general idea behind the white light is that it triggers our brain to stay alert and awake, pushing us far away from bedtime.
Our brain, also called the master clock, is directly influenced by environmental cues, especially light, which is the most powerful influence on circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are automatically tied to the cycle of day and night. Therefore, eliminating exposure to this light is essential in setting our sleep-wake cycle in the proper order.
If you have a TV installed in your bedroom or you find yourself dissolved in your couch at night, going through one episode after another, it is probably wise to break out of this habit at least an hour before bedtime. You can pick up a book, meditate before bed, journal, or stretch. Soak your feet in salt water before bed to relax, and try taking a warm bath or shower if possible. These methods help you streamline your thoughts and have a better-relaxed state of mind when you hit the sack.
3. Avoid Heavy Meals Before Bedtime
Diet plays a crucial role in how your body functions. If you are someone who likes to snack before bedtime, you might want to switch this habit to a lighter meal. Have a balanced diet throughout the day, so your energy isn’t on the verge of crashing when you reach home and feel like devouring all your snacks in one go. A little stroll after your meal might be a good practice. It can help you reach your daily steps and regulates your heart’s health.
Eating oily or processed food near bedtime can cause indigestion, and acid reflux hinders sleep, increases the chances of developing heart disease or may even make you gain extra pounds. However, going to bed hungry can also make it hard to fall asleep. So alternatively, you can opt for food products with high melatonin content to help you feel full and induce sleep. These include cherries, grapes, strawberries, nuts, and oats.
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4. Have a Cup of Relaxing Tea
Having a cup of relaxing tea near bedtime can be a great addition to your routine. Green tea is an excellent choice as it helps promote sleep quality and quantity. The main sleep-promoting compound in green tea is ‘Theanine,’ which is believed to work wonders in reducing stress-related hormones or the neuron excitement in your brain, making you calm and relaxed just before bedtime. The additional benefit of green tea at night is also beneficial for weight loss. Its thermogenic properties help promote fat burning by speeding up your metabolism.
Make sure your choice of tea is decaffeinated or without nicotine, as these two teas can prove counterproductive in your sleeping pattern. There are varied options to choose from, which are non-caffeinated. These could be herbal teas, especially ones with chamomile or lavender, which are another excellent way to calm the mind and induce sleep.
5. Stretch Your Body
Sitting in the same position all day can take a toll on your posture and lead to stiff muscles. Taking out five minutes while in bed is a good practice to loosen up the muscles and help them relax before sleeping. Adding this to your night-time routine is a simple yet effective step. You can also add soothing music or types of audio which promote brain calmness, like white or pink noise. White noise is proven to help you fall asleep faster, while pink ambient noise, like rain or waves, has been shown to improve sleep quality. Make sure your room is cool, dark, and quiet. You can also try using blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out any light coming in from outside.
6. Try Deep Breathing Techniques
Night-time can trigger anxiety for many people. The overwhelming feeling settles in, especially in the dark hours due to work stress or other factors, making it difficult to fall asleep. Deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can allow you to let go of the physical and mental tension with ease. Inculcating meditation as a part of your bedtime routine, practicing mindful and relaxing breaths, and being present in the moment can help you let go of that crunching mental feeling. A daily yoga routine can also improve sleep quality and prevent cramping.
Considering that a human being spends basically one-third of their life sleeping, investing in a comfortable mattress that provides adequate support is wise. Also, make sure your bedding is clean, fresh, and comfortable. A hygienic place will enable you to sleep without any disruption.
7. Pick Up a Book
Reading at bedtime is a habit that we as children are accustomed to as our parents read aloud stories to us in childhood, and we succumbed to sleep shortly. As adults, picking up a book is an excellent practice as it helps you to break away from screen time. It also promotes restful sleep and maybe even more interesting dreams. It can also be a stress reducer in a way.
Distracting your brain with new information or someone else’s story can take your mind off of your own troubles. This, in turn, helps you become an empath and have positive long-term effects on cognition. However, to not get too swayed away by the book, stay away from exciting genres like suspense and action. A book with a drama-free, even boring plot, can be best.
Create a Schedule With a Trusted Therapist on DocVita Today
Remember, while developing a bedtime routine takes time, you must be patient and consistent. You’ll soon find that having a consistent bedtime routine will help you fall asleep faster and feel refreshed each morning.
If you’re someone who has a prolonged history of sleepless nights, and even after following a schedule, it isn’t much to avail, you can consider talking to a professional therapist to help you track your individual case.
Visit DocVita’s website and consult a therapist from the comfort of your home.