We all know that turning a routine into habit takes time, but ultimately yields positive results. Hitting the gym, flossing, and eating healthier all require adhering to a routine to make them a part of your daily life. The same can be said for bedtime routines too. In this article, we’ll look at how valuable, healthy bedtime rituals are, what rituals you should implement, and how to personalize them just for you.
Why Should You Think About Bedtime Routines?
Firstly, let’s talk about our circadian rhythm or body clock. This is basically what’s responsible for you feeling energized or drowsy around the same times every day. The National Sleep Foundation notes that “for most adults, the biggest dip happens in the middle of the night…and just after lunchtime (when you tend to crave a post-lunch nap).”
This rhythm performs best when you maintain regular sleep habits, like sleeping and waking at the same time every day, even on weekends. When it’s thrown off, like when you stay out late at a party or are feeling jet lag after a trip, your circadian rhythm is out of balance and you’ll likely feel tired and have trouble concentrating.
Implementing a bedtime ritual that you stick to will help you keep your rhythm in sync, allowing you to relax at a specific time each night, so you fall asleep right on schedule.
What Should My Routine Look Like?
Dr. Michael Breus, author of Good Night: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health, idealized the pre-bed ritual that’s best for keeping your circadian rhythm in check. The routine involves:
20 minutes of effort in preparing your household for the coming day
20 minutes performing any hygiene or bathing
20 minutes relaxing or meditating
Step 1: Preparing For the Day Ahead
The first step involves spending time getting ready for the coming day and is important for keeping stress and anxiety levels low. This could mean preparing lunches, cleaning the kitchen, preparing your bags, or anything else to help make the next day a little easier. Then when it’s bedtime, you’ll feel more at ease with all of these tasks out of the way.
Step 2: Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene is a necessary step to maximizing your nightly rest. Make sure everything in your bedroom feels as comfortable and soothing as possible. Make sure your bedding is washed regularly, and that thermostat is set between 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Dim your lights at least an hour before bed and turn off your electronic devices before retiring for the night. You can also establish a relaxing nightly ritual such as taking a warm shower or bath. Whatever it means for you, just make sure you and your room are ready for rest and relaxation.
Step 3: Unwind Before Bed
Finally, make it a priority to unwind in the evening by practicing personal relaxation or meditation techniques that work best for you. This is different for everyone, but suggestions include writing in a gratitude journal to ease your mind and focus on the positives in life, listen to a relaxing audiobook or podcast, or doing a few minutes of focused breathing and meditation.
Everyone’s pre-bed ritual is different; it all depends on what you find relaxing, enjoyable, and helpful to de-stress and prepare for the next day. Whatever your routine looks like, just know that you’ll be on the right path to getting amazing sleep and a beautiful wake-up.