Many of us create a bedtime routine for our children, yet as we grow older, we throw the entire ritual out the window. If you are having a difficult time going to sleep or staying asleep, perhaps it’s time to get back to basics.
Start small by asking yourself a few questions: Do you have a set bedtime? A consistent time that you turn out the lights every night? Do you wake up at the same time every morning? Are you wondering why we’re thinking about what time you wake up when reading about how to get a good night’s sleep?
I promise that they are related. When creating a routine, it’s important to look at the entire picture. What you are doing prior to turning out the lights can determine the restfulness of your sleep as well as the way you feel when you wake up in the morning. To choose the time you will turn out the lights, back into it by deciding what time your alarm will sound the next day. The goal is to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night.
#1 disconnect from electronic devices. This includes phone, tablet, computer, laptop and television. I know many who feel that watching TV helps them settle down, relax, and disconnect, but science does not support this line of thinking. At the very least, if you are having trouble sleeping, give it a try. Remember, as Jim Rohn said, “For things to change, you have to change.”
2. If you find it difficult to turn off your thoughts, keep a journal next to your bed. Many times once the thoughts have been released onto paper, your mind will quiet down. In my experience if I cannot read what I wrote the next day, it doesn’t matter. The act of writing it down quieted my mind enough to get to sleep.
3. Taking a warm bath about an hour before bedtime can create a sensation that makes you feel tired and relaxed. Some have found that a shower can be beneficial as a way of “washing away the worries of the day.”
4. Read a good book. Preferably one that is comforting; avoiding mysteries and stories that will leave you feeling anxious or keyed up. Again, the idea is to invoke, peace and lull you into a restful night’s sleep.
5. Being active and getting enough exercise throughout the day can leave your body feeling physically tired and ready to rest. No, you don’t need to spend hours at the gym or walk/jog for miles. Simply getting 20-30 minutes of exercise four to five days each week should be enough for you to see a positive impact, not only on your sleep, but for YOU as a whole person.
One final thought: once you turn off the lights and begin to drift off to sleep, think of all that you have to be grateful for; your home, people you love, having enough to eat, for life itself. When we truly look around, we have so much to be thankful for. Many times taking the time to notice is the first step in realizing how beautiful our world can be. Look at the sky, the trees, the clouds. Feel the wind upon your face or the sun on your skin. Beauty is in the seemingly small moments found all around us.
For more information, check out the article by The Sleep Foundation, called “Bedtime Routine for Adults”, and additional information on the Mayo Clinic’s website.