Do you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep? The culprit might be your bedtime routine. If you’re struggling to get some rest, you’ve got company. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 35% of U.S. adults are not getting the recommended seven hours of shut-eye each night.
The good news is, you can reverse this trend by engaging in healthy bedtime habits that will have you drifting off to sleep in no time. You can wake up rested if you make a few small changes to your nightly routine. Here are 10 things you should always do before bed.
Reading before bedtime can help you rest.
Reading before bedtime can help you catch some Zs. When you make reading a part of your regular routine, your body will start to automatically relax when you curl up in bed with your favorite reading material. A study conducted by Sussex University researchers found reading for just six minutes can lower your stress levels by 68%. When you feel less stressed out, it will be a lot easier to fall asleep.
Meditation can help you drift off to sleep.
Do racing thoughts keep you up at night? Meditating before you go to sleep is a great way to wrap up the work day and clear your mind of the day’s worries. Some meditations involve deep breathing exercises or focusing on different things that happened throughout the day, then letting your thoughts go. If you don’t know how to get started, you can listen to a guided meditation to help you ease into a regular routine.
3. Write in a journal
Take time to think of all the things you are grateful for.
An alternative to simply focusing on things that happened throughout the day and letting them go is to write down your thoughts in a journal. There are several types, but one type that may be best before getting some shut-eye is a gratitude journal. This requires you to write down all the things you are grateful for on a particular day. Instead of tossing and turning, focusing on the bad parts of your day, let your mind and body drift off to dreamland while thinking of all the things you’re grateful for and that make you happy.
It’s also helpful to keep a record like this so you can look at it during the daytime hours if you’re having a particularly trying day. The Journal of Happiness Studies reports this type of writing can result in an increased sense of well-being, decreased feelings of sadness, and increased happiness.
Try the progressive muscle relaxation technique.
Relaxing doesn’t come naturally for everyone. If you find it difficult to get your body to settle down, try practicing progressive muscle relaxation. This technique requires you to slowly tense and then relax each muscle group, making you more aware of your body and sensations of tension. The more you make an effort to relax your body, the easier it will become. Eventually, your body will relax effortlessly and falling asleep will happen quicker.
Think of things that make you relaxed and happy.
Visualization is not only helpful when you’re trying to meet a goal, but also when you’re trying to calm down and get some rest. Set aside a few minutes before bed to visualize yourself sitting somewhere that brings you joy or relaxation, such as a beach. Although you shouldn’t dwell on work too much before going to sleep, you can also imagine yourself having a productive workday or successfully completing a task.
6. Take a warm shower or bath
A bedtime bath can help you relax.
Relax your muscles by taking a warm shower or bath before heading to bed. The dip in your body temperature after emerging from the warm water can induce sleepiness. In addition, check to make sure your bedroom temperature isn’t too cool or warm. This could make it a lot harder to fall asleep if you’re shivering from the cold or lying in a pool of sweat from the heat.
7. Listen to music
Music helps soothe the soul.
Depending on the style, music has a way of soothing frayed nerves and easing the mind. Pick out some soft tunes and play them in your bedroom before going to sleep. You can even combine meditation or visualization with your music time. Before you know it, you’ll be sound asleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, listening to music before sleeping can even help those with sleep disorders by boosting sleep quality. The organization recommends listening to songs that have a slow rhythm of about 60 to 80 beats per minute.
8. Turn off the lights
It’s better to sleep with the lights off.
You might have such a tough day that you fall into bed after work and go straight to sleep without turning off the lights. However, your body clock is affected by light, so it’s a good idea to make sure the lights are off before bedtime. If you don’t like to sleep with all your lights off, you can dim them or get a night light.
9. Spend time with a loved one
Spend some quality time with the one you love.
Are you restless because you’re anticipating a rough day? There’s nothing like the soothing voice of (or hugs from) a trusted friend or family member. If you know you’re going to have a challenging work day, make time to talk on the phone or in person with someone who encourages you. Reminding yourself of the love and support you have can put your mind at ease.
10. Get ready for the next day
Getting ready the day before can help ease your anxiety.
Taking time to prepare for the next day can remove a heavy burden from your shoulders. Worrying about getting ready in the morning can produce a lot of anxiety. Rest easy and wake up refreshed by doing what you can to prepare. For example, pick out what you’re going to wear or make a healthy lunch. If you have a presentation the next day, you could also take a few moments to go through your bag and make sure you have everything you need. Knowing that you’re prepared for the next work day can help you feel more relaxed and stop some of your anxious thoughts.