Getting enough sleep is extremely important for your overall wellbeing. Our guest writer, holistic health coach, Hannah Burns explains why creating a bedtime routine is important and gives you advice on how to do it.
The importance of Establishing a Bedtime Routine
I’ve written before about how important sleep is for our overall health, and any fat loss or fitness goals we have. Today I’d like to share some practical tips for establishing your own bedtime routine, so that you get the quantity and quality of sleep that your body needs.
I’m totally a girl of routine! And morning and bedtime routines are my faves!
I can’t wait to share some of the best ways you can wind down and prepare your body for sleep. But before we get to the actual routine, let me explain why this is so important for good sleep.
You may have heard of something called circadian rhythm. This is basically your internal body clock. When you fall asleep, when you wake up, how much sunlight you’re exposed to in the morning…all of these help regulate your circadian rhythm, through the proper balance of two key hormones, melatonin and cortisol. So going to sleep and waking up as consistently as possible, helps your body sleep more effectively for you to get the deep QUALITY of sleep you need. It will also help you feel READY to sleep and fall asleep faster so you get the QUANTITY of sleep that you need. Creating a routine makes it easier for you to be consistent.
How to create a relaxing bedtime routine
There are many great options for creating a relaxing, enjoyable, bedtime routine! Here are the top ones you need to know:
- Hot bath/shower
- Gentle stretching/yoga
- “Cuddling” with your partner ;)
- Diffusing or massaging into your skin (properly diluted, of course) an essential oil like lavender or chamomile
- Drinking warm decaffeinated tea (such as chamomile)
- Journaling- For some, journaling right before bed, or writing out the next day’s to-do list is helpful for clearing their brain to relax. But if you’re one of those (like me) who can actually feel MORE awake or stressed from journaling and such, you might want to skip this one.
Which will YOU add to your bedtime routine? (Don’t feel like you need to add ALL of these at once. You don’t want bedtime to become another mini to-do list :) )
Why don’t you make it your goal to add at least ONE option to the last part of your day this week?
Try to avoid doing these things before bedtime
And now, let’s talk about a few things that are NOT helpful for relaxing, falling asleep faster, or sleeping deeply.
- working out (this can raise your body temperature drastically, and your cortisol levels. Not cool when you’re trying to fall asleep)
- staring at a computer/phone screen (the blue light these electronics emit interrupts your body’s production of melatonin, the sleep hormone) Just a side note: if watching tv is absolutely how you wind down, or it just fits into your lifestyle to be on your computer later in the evening, think about purchasing a pair of blue-light blocking glasses to wear.
- working on your monthly budget (really, anything that might stress you mentally)
So, you should probably try to avoid these a few hours before bedtime, if you want optimal sleep.
Make your sleep the best it can be
Now, on to the “bed” part of bedtime! There are lots of ways to make your sleep the best it can be! Good sleep hygiene includes:
- A consistent sleep schedule- as mentioned before, your body has natural sleep/wake cycles it follows. Keeping a regular schedule just makes it easier for you to wind down physically and mentally, preparing for the deep sleep your body needs.
- a cool room – your body temperature naturally lowers as you enter the deeper phases of sleep, so this will help bring you into deep sleep faster (around 67 degrees F seems to be optimal)
- A dark room – make sure your curtains/blinds/shades adequately block light, and try not to sleep with a nightlight on
- the right pillow – choose something that gives your neck the support it needs. No one likes to wake up with a crick in their neck! And be sure to change your pillowcase every few days, so you have something fresh to rest your head on.
- You also may want to try sipping water the last hour or so before bed, rather than downing an entire glass at a time. This is really hard for me, but I’ve found that if I’m hydrating well throughout the day, I won’t be super thirsty at night. Obviously, the reasoning behind this, is that you don’t want to be waking up in the middle of the night just to make a trip to the bathroom!
By simply taking 15 minutes each night before bed, you are well on your way to better, deeper sleep!
// Hannah Burns
Hannah Burns is a holistic health coach for women who want to feel their best, have energy, and live their healthiest life possible. She loves cooking healthy foods, spending time with her husband, and making music. When you sign up for her weekly email at www.beautifulfoodsbyhannah.com, you’ll receive delicious recipes, motivation, and practical tips for a healthy lifestyle! Follow Hannah on Instagram: @beautifulfoodsbyhannah.