Even if you’ve already started to put your new year's resolutions into practice this month, it's not too late to add an additional goal to your list, and that is to focus on establishing a solid bedtime routine. Winding down at the end of the day can be challenging if you end up doing different things before bed each night. Without a sense of order to your pre-rest rituals, you can end up staying awake later than you’d like each evening, causing you to miss out on several important hours of sleep. But, fear not, as we’ve been able to compile everything you need to establish the right bedtime routine in the new year!
A Sleep Study (If Necessary)
Most individuals who would benefit from a sleep study are those who have had problems getting good sleep for quite some time. If you’ve suspected you may have had sleep apnea for a while, but have been too lazy to go through the process of testing this theory, get ahead of these issues in the new year by getting a free ten minute consultation today.
This easy first step in the process will get the ball rolling for you to be able to have a better bedtime routine, and a better night's sleep in general. Should you have sleep apnea, you’ll want to invest in a sleep apnea machine as soon as possible. These machines will keep your airways open while you sleep, improving your breathing and overall sleep quality. Without this, you’ll likely continue to have trouble drifting to sleep at night, thus leaving you with no foundation to establish the right rituals before bed.
Strict Time Tables
Establishing strict times for when to wind down, when to turn off your technology, and when to get in your bed is one of the best places to start with as you map out your routine. Designate the hour before you want to be asleep as your “wind down” exercise, and be intentional about what you are allowed to do during this time. From taking a bath to curling up with a book, choose pre-bed activities that will relax you as opposed to stress you out.
Try to make this time a phone-free period, especially if you’re prone to scrolling through the news or social media and losing track of the hour. Get in bed about 15-30 minutes before you want to fall asleep as this will give you the chance to relax your entire body, focus on your breathing, and drift off peacefully. Although it may be tempting to stretch these time tables every now and then, try not to bend the rules. Having even just a few minutes to relax yourself before bed can make all the difference in your sleep schedule and overall health this year, so don’t cut corners.
Aside from setting the proper time tables to make your bedtime routine a success, having clean/new bedding is also an effective way to fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep without tossing and turning. Depending on how old your bedding is, it could be time to upgrade your favorite set of sheets in the new year, or to invest in comforters that meet your sleeping needs. It can be harder to fall asleep when you’d like to in the colder months, especially if you’re usually left shivering under the covers.
Adding a heated blanket to go under your sheets is a simple yet practical way to keep you warm in the moments before you fall asleep, making your new bedtime routine easier to adjust to. If you aren’t in the market for new bedding but still feel as though your sheets aren’t very comforting, it’s probably time to ask yourself if you wash your sheets enough. The general rule of thumb to abide by is to wash your sheets every two weeks to keep them crisp and clean for when you get into bed each night. For best practice, try setting a two week timer on the day you usually do laundry to hold yourself accountable as the year progresses.
The Proper Clothing
Have you ever thought about how your nighttime clothes affect your sleeping patterns? This question should be a crucial part of your nightly routine. Choosing the proper clothing before you get under the covers can sometimes be half the battle towards feeling comfortable before bed. In a previous article from our blog published in 2019, we dive into this topic a bit further. One important takeaway from this post is the importance of wearing clothes made from cotton fabric to bed. Since the majority of individuals were reported in our article to sleep in only their underwear each night, investing in undergarments that are made of cotton is a surefire way to enhance your bedtime routine this year! Most boxers and briefs are already made from cotton, but the variety of women’s underwear tends to make things more tricky.
Women might have to do some extra digging in their underwear drawer to find the correct pair, or stock up on the right women’s cotton underwear to wear to bed. Proper bedtime clothing should be loose and breathable, and since cotton fabric is as simple as it gets, you hopefully won’t have to go too far to find undergarments that put you at ease when beginning your bedtime routine. You should always begin your pre-rest rituals with clothing that is comfort forward and signifies putting relaxation first.
Finally, some easy, yet helpful finishing touches to get you into the sleepy spirit each night are quality mood setters. Whether you have a favorite candle scent that you strive to light each night, an essential oils diffuser, or a white noise machine, having something to add to the ambience of your bedroom during your wind down hour specifically, can really make a difference. Such additions can also end up training your senses and your body to recognize when it’s time to sleep, sometimes even triggering melatonin production, making you extra sleepy!
However you decide to establish your nighttime routine in 2021, make sure you’re sticking to strict time tables, wearing the right clothes, and creating an overall atmosphere of relaxation. Put your mental and physical health first in the new year by prioritizing the rest you need.
While you probably don't have time to incorporate every one of these ideas into your bedtime routine, try choosing a few that you can easily add to your schedule. Test them out and keep the ones that help you while removing the ones that don't. As you start to discover what works for you, you'll be well on your way to nights full of quality sleep.
If you live in Alaska and you would like to speak to a sleep specialist about improving your bedtime routine, please click the link below or call Alaska Sleep Clinic @ 907-770-9104.