Did you know that 1 in 3 adults get inadequate sleep? It could be that their night routine is not effective enough.
The CDC shares that statistic, and says that it could lead to numerous health conditions. Are you one of the 1 in 3? Chances are that many people reading this identify that way. So what can you do?
It’s more important than ever to get a good night’s sleep. With all the chaos in the world, one of the things you can still control is your night time routine. We can take proactive steps to get a better night’s sleep, which can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
I personally have suffered from some form of sleep issues for the past 20 years or so. I’ve dealt with insomnia, restless leg syndrome at night, tossing and turning, snoring, anxiety… you name it.
So, I know what it feels like to drag yourself through your day, like you’re swimming in molasses. I’ve been there.
I still struggle with it at times, but I have found things that help me get more shut eye. In this post, I’m going to talk about why a proper bedtime routine is so important, and share some night routine ideas you can try today.
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with depression, chronic fatigue, and anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
Why is a proper bedtime routine so important?
We always see people recommend creating a proper bedtime routine. But why? Why does it matter so much?
According to the CDC: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night. Consistently failing to meet that goal can result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and memory loss. According to the National Institutes of Health, poor sleep can also increase the risk of slowed reaction times, irritability, anxiety, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.”
I know we’ve all felt that way from time to time. I definitely have.
- A little forgetful because you’re tired
- Cranky when you wake up
- More anxious than usual
- Falling into poor eating habits
These things can lead to a lifetime of poor health and unhappiness. That is why it’s vital to create a bedtime routine that relaxes you into proper sleep.
Shelly is a busy millennial. She works at an financial company 50 hours a week, and is now forced to work from home due to the pandemic. Her life is totally thrown out of whack because her child’s daycare is closed. So, she has to mom and work at the same time.
She is so stressed she can barely function. At the end of a life, Shelly drops into bed with a huff, checks her Instagram, and spends an hour or more trying to fall asleep.
This situation is common for so many, but luckily, there are things you can do. Keep reading to find out 7 simple ways to fall asleep and stay asleep longer.
One thing to keep in mind
One thing that has regularly affected my sleep are my anti-depressants. All psychiatric medications have known side effects, and some have been shown to disrupt sleep patterns. Here is a list that I found. This might be something to consider if you already take medication for depression or anxiety and still don’t feel rested.
7 night routine ideas you can try today
Pick one of these ideas to try and start there! If it doesn’t help you can always try another one. Remember, these are tools for self care, and self care is not one size fits all. Try one, two, or all of them. Whatever works to help you get the best sleep possible.
Get regular exercise
Exercising on a regular basis can help you get a better sleep, according to Charlene Gamaldo, MD, who is the Medical Director at Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep. “The good news: People who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may see a difference in sleep quality that same night. ‘It’s generally not going to take months or years to see a benefit,’ says Gamaldo. ‘And patients don’t need to feel like they have to train for the Boston Marathon to become a better sleeper.'”
So, you don’t have to go too over the top with it. Just 30 minutes on the elliptical a day, or even every other day, can help your sleep patterns immensely.
Not saying you ought to give it up all together, but you should try to avoid drinking any at least a few hours before you plan to go to sleep. It gives you a short term burst of energy that can make it hard to go to sleep. It can also exacerbate anxiety, which affects sleep as well.
Trying switching out your post-work coffee or caffeinated tea for a decaf version, or phasing it out all together. I am a recovering Pepsi addict, and I have found the Bubly sparkling water to be a nice substitute.
Try a guided meditation
There are so many options for this on Youtube, that you are bound to find one that is helpful. Guided meditation is a relaxing way to fall asleep faster without needing to be a pro at meditation. The beauty is, you don’t need to know how to do it. Just follow the instructions on the video and try to unwind.
If you think you are too stressed to remember to meditate, do what I do for just about everything these days: Set a reminder on my phone. Most phone come with this function built in, some kind of customizable alarm you can set to remind yourself to do something.
Listen to soothing music
One thing I like to do, which you can also find on Youtube is to find videos of relaxing music. All you have to do is close your eyes, take a deep breath, and try to shut off your mind.
I know that’s hard. Trust me, I’m no stranger to intrusive thoughts from anxiety. Just try to focus on the music, or even the rhythm of your breathing, and allow yourself to be carried off into sleep.
There is a lot research emerging about listening to music with binaural beats as part of your bedtime routine. Expert say it reduces stress, improves cognitive performance, and allows for a better night’s sleep.
Eat foods for a bedtime snack that encourages sleep
There are certain foods you can snack on at bedtime that will encourage your body to fall asleep. Here is a list of ones to start with, according to the article I linked:
- Warm milk
- Chamomile tea
- Fatty fish
- Barley grass powder
Have them for dinner, or work them into some kind of bedtime snack, and see how it affects you!
Write in a journal
Journaling is one of the best free tools you can use to improve your mental health! (Well, relatively free. You still have to buy a notebook.) But it is a very cost-effective form of therapy, and there are unlimited options on what you can write about.
Not sure where to start? First, buy a journal using the image below! Once you get it, try one of the following prompts:
- Write down 5 things you are grateful for
- Think of something that went well today
- Think of something that could have gone better, and come up with a plan to avoid it next time
- Write down 3 things you really like about yourself
- Write a letter to your younger self
Stay off of your phoneIt's natural to lie in bed and scroll social media or go on TikTok until you feel sleepy. But the truth this, this might be making matters worse. Studies show that higher levels of screen times correlate with higher levels of anxiety. Share on twitter
Why? My guess is that since all you see these days is awful news headlines and political tension, no wonder it makes you anxious. You also see posts filled with pictures of people “who have it all.” Even though we should know that most of what we see on social media is not the complete picture, and just a snippet of a person’s life.
So, make it a habit to spend an hour before bed screen-free. Maybe pick up a book or your journal instead, or take a relaxing bath.
Get a better night time routine ASAP
You don’t have to try every single one of these tips tonight if you can’t manage that. After all, building a healthy bedtime routine is a marathon, not a sprint. You won’t just wake up after one night of trying and have all your problems cured.
You can pick one to start with and try that for a week or so. If it helps a little, maybe pick another activity from the list to add. If it doesn’t help at all, swap it out for something different. These things take time, and a lot of patience.
But I promise, it is possible to feel rested and happy.
Do you struggle with sleep? What’s your bedtime routine like? Let me know in the comments + make sure to share this post on social media using the buttons at the top of the page.