Alaska Sleep Education Center

How To Establish a New Bedtime Routine for Better Sleep

Posted by Kevin Faber on Mar 16, 2021 1:34:00 AM

Happy family reading a book in bed

Everyone has to sleep at some point, but if your nightly bedtimes are random at best, you're not getting the rest you need. Trying to catch up with housework after a long day at work makes relaxing a challenge. How many times have you fallen asleep with your computer, only to wake up hours later tired and uncomfortable? If this sounds like you, it's time to get your bedtime habits in order. Here are several suggestions on how to switch things up and establish a new and better bedtime routine.

Sleep in Your Bed

Bedtime is supposed to be time spent in your bed. It doesn't mean snoozing on the sofa or dozing off in front of the computer. Nightly sleep should happen exclusively in your bedroom. While it might be easy to fall sound asleep on the couch, it can literally be a pain in the neck. It's also not good for your back since you're likely to be contorted into all sorts of positions. A living room is also filled with light, distractions and noise. Your bedroom, on the other hand, is a controlled environment where you can keep it dark and cool. From now on, make an effort to sleep in your bed.

Employ the Power of Scent

Using the power of scent has become increasingly popular for promoting rest, relaxation and wellbeing. Aromatherapy employs the use of essential oils, lotions and candles to produce feelings of peace and tranquility. Lavender is a popular scent for sleep, but using the smell of eucalyptus is even better for relieving stress and anxiety. Smoothing on eucalyptus hand cream before you sleep has a soothing effect and helps you breathe better. This provides intense relief if you experience sleep apnea or if you're congested when the air is dry.

Choose Your Bedtime

Just because you have an approximate bedtime doesn't mean it's the right time. If you're only getting 5-6 hours of sleep per night, it's not enough. When you get home from work, calculate how long it takes you to have dinner, catch up with your family and get things ready for the next day. Soon after this would be a good time to get your bedtime routine in motion. For those that like to stay up until the wee hours, save that for the weekend. Aim for at least 7-9 hours of quality sleep during the workweek.

Prepare for the Next Morning

The first part of your bedtime routine should be prepping for the next day. This will save you tons of time in the morning and you won't have to rush out the door. Set up your morning coffee and decide if you'll be taking lunch and get it bagged and ready. Next, check the weather and decide what you'll wear to work. Knowing if it's going to rain the next day allows you to have rain gear ready, so you can get up and go. Last, get your work materials ready and put your keys in plain sight. Now, you're mentally ready for bed.

Remove Your Makeup

One tradition that should already be part of your bedtime routine is washing up before you hit the sheets. As tempting as it is to jump into bed and forget about everything, washing your face and removing your makeup makes a huge difference in your skin. Sleeping in makeup not only clogs your pores, but it also allows the day's grime to stay on your face. Your skin naturally repairs itself at night, but it can't when it's dirty. This residue can also cause tiny scratches from rubbing against your pillow. Before bed, wash your face with warm water and apply a rich moisturizer.

Close Up the House

Closing up the house for the evening is a helpful part of your nightly routine. Turning off lights, locking doors and silencing the TV will signal to your brain that it's time to relax. It also tells others in the house that it's time to wind things down. As enticing as it is to scroll through your social media feeds, try to avoid using electronics at least an hour before bed. The blue light emitted from tablets, computers and cellphones inhibits the production of melatonin which is the hormone that makes you sleepy.

Get Back Into Reading

When was the last time you got lost in a great page-turner? If you can't remember, it's time to rekindle your love for books. Reading before bedtime is the perfect ritual because it's something you'll look forward to. Whatever genre of books you like, reading provides a complete escape from the world. Once you're deep into a story, you're almost oblivious to your surroundings. Studies say that reading for just a half-hour reduces blood pressure and your stress level. Burying your nose in a book has also been found to increase empathy, boost concentration and reduce your risk of dementia.

Stay Caffeine-Free

If you like a warm beverage before bed, steer clear of coffee and other caffeinated drinks. Caffeine can stay in your system for up to twelve hours and that spells trouble when you're trying to get a good night's sleep. For a comforting bedtime drink, choose an herbal tea that contains chamomile, valerian root, lavender or vanilla. If you prefer something with a little more substance, prepare yourself a white hot chocolate or a decaf chai latte. Both drinks are smooth, rich and sleep-friendly.

Prep Your Bedroom

Once you're ready to slide between the sheets, you want to make sure you're as comfortable as can be. Always prep your bedroom as a final step to your bedtime routine. A cooler room lends itself to better slumber, so crack open a window or adjust the heat. Your room should also be perfectly dark for the best rest. Make sure your bedding is always clean and that you make your bed every morning. It's difficult to relax in a bed full of messy blankets. Finally, always keep your bedroom free of clutter so you don't trip and fall if you have to get up in the middle of the night.

Spoil Yourself

Everyone deserves to have the best sleep they can get and by creating a better bedtime routine, you'll give yourself the gift of more energy and less stress. Always sleep the entire night in your bed after you've set things up for the following day and closed up the house. Your routine can be further improved with a soothing warm drink, scented hand cream and an exciting new book. After working hard all day, your bedtime routine is the best way to spoil yourself and get the rest you deserve.

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.

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Topics: routine, bedtime, sleep routine

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