4 Easy Bedtime Habits to Help You Sleep Better
This past weekend we switched off daylight savings and gained an hour of sleep (at least for one night). And if you’re like me, you soaked up that extra hour by laying in bed and not doing a lot of anything! ‘Cause sometimes the best self-care is doing absolutely nothing.
But without thinking too much about it, the time change may also be throwing off your sleep cycle as your body adjusts to the sky getting dark earlier in the evening (and I’m having to adjust to one less hour of food photography shooting time!). It seems like a small change, but our bodies are regulated heavily by the sun, moon, temperature and environment. They all influence your body’s circadian rhythm or natural sleep/wake cycle.
A couple of weeks ago I talked about a morning ritual to get your day started on the right foot, but an evening ritual is just as important for good, restful, restorative sleep. And if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I’m all about good sleep. It’s a massive variable in your wellness – and one that’s easily overlooked.
So how can you get better sleep tonight (and every night)? Develop a sleep ritual! Just do a few simple things each and every night to signal your body that it’s time for a little shut eye. After a couple of weeks you’ll be amazed at how impactful these little habits can be!
Here’s four habits you can start tonight:
Don’t eat dinner late
If you’re out socializing with friends or at a dinner function, you may not realize how late you’re eating. But digestion is a major bodily function and takes quite a bit of work. That means if your body is working hard digesting a late night meal (and all your blood is rushing to your stomach to help the process) – your body’s energy is directed at digestion rather than sleep. The easy fix? Finish all large meals at least three hours before bed.
Disconnect from your devices
Yep, it’s time to just put down the device. This means your laptop, computer, iPad and mobile phone. The blue light emitted from these devices significantly impacts your natural sleep/wake cycle and can have you tossing and turning all night long. And if those emails you’re looking at are work related, the additional stress on your brain late at night could absolutely keep you up. So disconnect from all devices at least three hours before bed (hint: three hours is the magic number!) – and please please don’t have them charging in your bedroom. Your bedroom is your sleep sanctuary and should always remain free of electronic devices.
Simple relaxation exercises can include meditation, gentle yoga, deep breathing exercise and taking a warm bath. Doing these exercise before bed will help you simmer down your overactive brain (that’s been working hard all day long) and start to relax your body and muscles while removing tension. Remember, wellness is a mind-body connection and these exercises are designed to help both!
Do the basics – at the same time
It’s amazing, but things like brushing your teeth, washing your face, writing in your journal and drinking a cup of chamomile tea can all act as powerful signals to your body and brain that it’s time for bed. Do these activities at the same time every night and you’ve got yourself an easy bedtime ritual. And really, start to think of them that way. Don’t just think “I’ve gotta go brush my teeth.” Think, “I’m gonna go brush my teeth and wash my face to prepare for bed.” Your thoughts along with your habits are a powerful combo to help you get better sleep.
Update: make sure to check out my 10 Tips to Sleep Better Naturally and Fall Asleep Fast.
What do you do to unwind from the day and/or turn your brain off? Have any tips or tricks for better sleep? Share in the comments below!