There are few things more exciting than coming home, showering, and snuggling into fresh sheets before you doze off to catch some much-needed shut-eye. However, the American Sleep Apnea Association reports that an astonishing 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep-related problems. While medical disorders cause some sleep issues, others find that their sleep is stymied by demanding lifestyles or the inability to get into a bedtime routine for sufficient sleep habits. Learn more about bedtime rituals that can help support sleep quality and quantity for a more restful night.
The Do’s To Support Restful Dozing
Getting restful sleep might seem out of reach. Like with anything in life, there are do’s and don’ts that help get the job done. First, consult a medical professional to rule out any serious underlying causes. Then, focus on the things that you can do right now.
Sticking to a Schedule
Inconsistency plagues much of adulthood. Busy workdays, meetings, kids, pets, dinners, and all the other obligations you sift through in a day can be exhausting to think about, much less follow through with. Creating a schedule and attempting to stick to it with minor variations will help calm your routine.
If you can’t control what goes on during the day, shift your efforts to your nighttime routine instead. Planning a nighttime routine that you can count on every night creates a safe, stable, and reliable schedule. Going to bed and rising at roughly the same time will help protect the sleep you get each night.
Hydrating an Hour Before
Just like during the day, water is essential for peak functioning. However, hydrating too close to bedtime can be annoying. Getting up to use the bathroom intermittently for an hour after getting tucked in for the evening is interruptive to your sleep schedule.
Instead, stick with a regular bedtime and set the alarm for an 8-ounce glass of water an hour before you hit the sheets. You will have plenty of time to use the restroom while staying hydrated. For many people, pangs of thirst wake them up in the middle of the night. Rather than getting up and making a trip to the kitchen, keep a glass of water next to the bed to take a sip when necessary.
Creating a Self-Care Regimen
Self-care regimens aren’t specific to any one sex. Everyone can unwind with a series of activities that make them feel good while taking special care of their bodies and minds. Self-care isn’t just about using a sheet mask or getting a manicure, though those are quite enjoyable; it is a specific and intentional way for you to maintain wellness to thrive in the regular activities in your daily life.
Self-care is essential to wellness and looks different for everyone, though many share similar activities. No matter which self-care practices you choose to adopt to support your well-being, be sure that you keep the details low maintenance. Getting ready for a restful night’s sleep should be a relaxing and unwinding experience. Be adaptive and receptive to what works and doesn’t, to support restful sleep.
Practicing Relaxation Techniques
People have particular tastes when it comes to things that they find relaxing. Not every activity makes for a good bedtime ritual. To find one that fits the mold, be sure that it is relaxing, slows your heart rate, warms your body, and is not stressful. Popular relaxation techniques that people incorporate into their bedtime rituals include:
- Soothing warm bath or shower
- Restorative yoga or stretching
- Visualization and manifestation
- Meditation and controlled breathing
- Make-up removal and cleansing
- Dimming the lights
- Listening to soft music
The Don’ts That Keep The Z’s Coming
When doing just one more thing doesn’t seem like a realistic possibility, it might be easier to avoid certain activities. Running on fumes might leave you feeling like skipping activities, like screen time, in your bedtime ritual rather than implementing new ones is best.
Limiting Large Meals
It is true that large meals typically make you feel “tired.” However, the sluggish feeling you get from overeating food or too much of a certain kind of food is not so much tired as it is unrest. Your body is working hard to process all the nutrients and other ingredients in your food for consumption and absorption.
In many cases, going to sleep directly after a large meal will result in waking up only a few hours later with a trip to the bathroom. If you are not awakened in the night, you are likely to wake up feeling unrested as your body worked overtime while you were asleep.
Cutting Back on Caffeine
Caffeine is the standard go-to for people who perpetually feel unrested. However, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that your deep sleep time is drastically reduced by caffeine. So, despite how necessary it may feel, cutting back on caffeine altogether may actually support the quality of your sleep and leave you feeling more rested than before.
Elimination can be a tough sell for people who fear reduced productivity or falling asleep on the afternoon train. If you are not yet ready to cut caffeine from your daily routine, try cutting yourself off from the drip after dinner. By 6 o’clock, you should stop consuming caffeine for a chance at more restful sleep.
Ditching the To-Do List
While some people report feeling more rested when they have tomorrow’s to-do list out of the way, others find it to be superbly stressful. Even when it’s penned on paper, knowing the long list of responsibilities and obligations that await you when the sun begins to rise can affect your sleep even before it begins to set.
However, some people live by the list. If you are a lister, rather than worry yourself with a to-do list every night, pick a time on a weekend afternoon to create a weekly briefing for yourself. To focus on the present, make it a practice to review your list each morning rather than the night before
Avoiding Long Naps
When you’re tired, naps can seem like sweet relief. However, they can often perpetuate the endless cycles of restless nights and sluggish days. While the weekends might offer the opportunity for leisurely naps, the weekdays often do not.
Rather than start a cycle that you cannot maintain, skip the naps unless you’re feeling under the weather or you have experienced an out-of-the-ordinary schedule disruption. Naps shouldn’t be used as standard practice to regulate poor sleep habits.
Finding a bedtime ritual that works for you might take some trial and error, but be patient with the process for results specific to your needs. Once you find a routine that works, it will be easier to be in bed at a reasonable time each night, ready for more restful sleep.