Do you struggle to get eight or more hours of sleep per night? Do you find yourself tossing and turning for a few hours before eventually falling asleep?
If so, you’re in good (albeit sleepy) company.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1 in 3 Americans aren’t getting enough sleep.
Yet, your problem may not be that you’re simply not tired. You might just be lacking a bedtime routine to help you wind down before you hit the hay.
Let’s go over seven tips for developing the perfect before-bed routine! Quality sleep is just around the corner.
1. Figure Out How Much Sleep You Need
This might be hard to believe, but we actually need less sleep as we get older.
So, just how much sleep does the average adult need to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day?
Well, if you listen to the Sleep Foundation, that number is somewhere between seven and nine hours a night.
But sleep isn’t one-size-fits-all.
Just how much sleep you need will depend on how much you exhaust yourself during the day. For example, intense exercise and mentally-draining work may require extra sleep to recover fully.
Consider about eight hours to be adequate in most cases. So if you need to be awake by 6 AM, you’ll need to be in bed and relaxed well before 10 PM.
2. Take A Look At Your Diet
Planning out when you go to bed is wise. But being in bed by 10 PM every evening doesn’t help much if you can’t fall asleep within a few minutes.
Do you have trouble quieting your thoughts in bed?
If so, it might be time to check your diet!
Most Americans start their day with a few cups of coffee or tea for a brief energy boost. Drinking caffeine too closely to bedtime can cause jitters, anxiety, and restless nights.
So, stay away from caffeine within six hours of bedtime!
You likely already expect these effects from caffeine. But, there’s one type of beverage that many people don’t know impacts sleep negatively — alcohol.
Drinking alcohol definitely makes you tired and helps you to fall asleep quicker. Yet, REM sleep is minimal when you have alcohol in your system. This can cause insomnia or poor quality sleep.
It’s best to cut the nightcap from your routine!
3. Start Relaxing Before You Even Lie Down
Unless you’re lucky, it probably takes you a little while to fall asleep once your head hits the pillow.
That’s why it’s best to relax your body and mind before you get to bed.
Here’s what you can do to destress prior to bedtime:
- Do a short meditation session, either guided breathing or a body scan
- Take a relaxing bath with essential oils
- Listen to soothing music
- Avoid doing work too close to bedtime
For the best results, begin your relaxation routine at least 30 minutes before you plan to head to the bedroom.
4. Get Your Room Ready For Sleep
Did you know that the physical environment in your bedroom can make or break your ability to sleep?
Here’s what you need to do to make your bedroom the perfect place to shut your eyes and catch some Zs.
Set your thermostat in your bedroom to 60-67 degrees.
Make your room as dark as you possibly can. Use thick shades or blinds that’ll keep outside light (from cars and street lights) from sneaking into your room.
Keep your room quiet. That means getting rid of that clunky metal fan that keeps you up at night.
Most importantly, avoid using electronics within 30 minutes of going to bed.
Electronic distractions, such as TVs and smartphones, are some of the worst offenders when it comes to ruining sleep quality. That’s because they produce an artificial blue light that tricks our bodies into thinking it’s a different time of day.
This can throw off your circadian rhythm by up to three hours and even suppress melatonin levels to make falling asleep a problematic task.
5. Do Something To Help You Relax
By the end of the workday — you’re exhausted.
You can’t wait to get home in a few hours, relax on the couch while watching TV, and then finally fall asleep in your comfy bed.
But when you get to bed, you just can’t seem to shut your eyes.
That’s when you want to do something that makes you sleepy while you’re winding down in bed.
- Reading a book
- Doing a crossword puzzle
- Listening to the sounds of nature
- Deep breathing
- Listening to a sleep podcast
In the ideal world, it would only take about ten minutes to fall asleep once you’re in bed. Any of these methods can help to make that a reality.
6. Tire Yourself Out During The Day
What you think is a sleep problem might stem from what you do (or don’t do) during the day.
You may just have too much pent-up energy at night.
That’s why it’s a great idea to tire yourself out both physically and mentally before calling it a day.
Getting a little exercise during the day is a great way to burn up some excess energy, improve your health, and tire yourself out by night.
Note: Be sure to exercise at least two hours before bedtime. Otherwise, you may actually be winding yourself up instead of down.
7. Stick To The Routine
Every step we’ve gone over so far can work.
But none of these steps will be as useful as they can be if you only try them once or if you try them every now and then.
It’ll take your body a little time to get used to this new routine. In some cases, this might be as long as two weeks.
So, stick to the routine and give it time to kick in!
We all want to wake up in the morning, ready to take on the day. But that’s very hard to do without a bedtime routine that allows us to relax before falling asleep each night.
Here’s what you need to do — create a bedtime routine!
This is an excellent way to wind down before bedtime to make falling asleep easier and your sleep quality better.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Arch at Ft. Wayne to help them with their online marketing.