Just as children benefit from a good bedtime routine, adults can also reap a number of rewards from healthy bedtime habits. Far from making life boring and predictable, routines help you live a healthier, happier, and calmer life. When it comes to sleep, routine becomes especially important.
Many people will battle with some type of sleep issue at some point in their lives. Others deal with stress on a daily basis – whether from work, home, life changes or anxiety. Over the course of the day, the average person needs to deal with a huge number of emotions, situations, decisions, tasks, and people. Even when you are not aware of being stressed, your mind and body are often feeling the effects. Most of us finish work and think that because we are no longer thinking about our day, we are relaxed. In reality, it takes a bit more than a few hours of series slumming for the brain to get the memo. This is why a bedtime routine is such a vital self care ritual.
How to Establish a Bedtime Routine
A healthy bedtime routine achieves a few things. Physiologically, a sleep routine helps to train the brain to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, according to our body’s natural circadian rhythm. This, in turn, helps to improve your sleep quality by training your brain to develop its own sleep cycle. Mentally, a good routine helps you make the transition from your busy day to bedtime, helping you relax and unwind in a way that boosts relaxation and reduces stress. Emotionally, routines provide comfort, which soothes, nurtures, and restores your soul.
How do you establish a bedtime routine? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Set fixed sleep and wake times.
Ideally, you should be aiming for 7-8 hours of sleep every single day. When you have a fixed sleep cycle during the week, only to break that cycle over weekends and holidays, it becomes far harder to get into a healthy sleep routine. You will continue to feel tired when you wake up. You may also continue to feel stressed and overwhelmed, too. If a full 8 hours does not work for you, that is fine. Try find the number of hours that works best for you and then stick to that every single day. Try it for a month and see how much it helps. You may just be surprised at how much difference it makes to your waking and sleeping hours.
Create a soothing environment.
Soft lighting, comfortable bedding, oil burners or diffusers, comfortable sleepwear, and limited screen time at bedtime can all help to create the right environment. Over the years, I have used everything from string lights to my rose quartz lamp to soften the lighting. I have burned essential oils, used pillow sprays, and experimented with blankets and bedding to find what works. It took me many years to realise that I overheat easily and even in the middle of winter, I never sleep in thick pjs or long sleeves. Experiment until you find what feels right.
Adapt your routine for your needs.
Before my sinuses went haywire, my bedtime routine often involved bedtime yoga or reading in bed on my tablet or even looking at Pinterest and playing games such as gems. I also used to do a quiet meditation of sorts, lying in bed listening to soft music with the lights on low. Those routines worked at the time, to a point, anyway. These days, because I usually get very stuffy by bedtime, my routine is a bit different. I do a lavender steam just before bed, for my sinuses and my skin, followed by a bit of skin pampering. The lavender works wonders to open up my sinuses and relax me at the same time. I then get into bed and relax with some breathing exercises. By this point, I am usually battling to stay awake. I am sleeping better than I have in years (and, as someone who has battled with sleep issues my whole life, that is saying a lot). I wake up feeling happy and calm and ready for the day.
Your bedtime routine may look a little different. Think about your current needs. Think about what makes you feel the most relaxed. Think about how you can adapt your sleep environment to suit those needs. It’s not always easy – especially when you live with another human (and small humans). Starting with small changes helps a lot. Over time, those small changes will all begin to add up to bigger changes. That, in turn, will make it easier to get into a bedtime routine that not only fits into your life but also adds real value to your life.