4 min.

28 April 2022

What should your bedtime routine be?

Sleep is a natural cycle which our body and mind should be able to do with ease, however, according to recent studies, 36% of adults struggle to get to sleep on a weekly basis and almost 1 in 5 have trouble falling asleep every single night. 1 This is why, here at Sleep Science by Emma, we’re passionate about helping you get a better night’s sleep, as it’s one of the most important aspects of your health and well-being. Establishing a good bedtime routine for adults is a simple task and once you get into this routine, your brain will shortly understand when it’s time to go to sleep.  

What is a bedtime routine? 

A guiding idea of sleep hygiene is to establish and stick to a healthy, consistent nighttime routine, that is a series of activities you do in the 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime in the same pattern each night. Bedtime rituals vary, but they frequently include relaxing activities such as taking a warm bath, reading, listening to music or meditation. 

 

Everyone’s bedtime routine will be different, as we all have specific activities which make us feel calmer and more relaxed, but we can offer a few tips on what might help you when you decide to put one together. 

Cut out caffeine 

Caffeine is a stimulant that causes you to feel alert for a short period of time, which might disrupt your sleep pattern. Caffeine's effects normally peak around 30 minutes after intake. Drinking coffee or caffeinated soft drinks in the morning or early afternoon has no influence on sleeping in the evening for most people. Unfortunately, it can have consequences for up to seven hours after consumption, so it's better to avoid it in the late afternoon and evening. 

Avoid alcohol and nicotine 

Both smoking and consuming alcohol can interrupt your sleep pattern in different ways. Nicotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant that increases alertness and attentiveness. This is true for both smoking and nicotine patches. Smoking cessation is also linked to sleep disturbances, but these usually subside within a few weeks. Many people, on the other hand, fall asleep faster after drinking alcohol, but sleep issues may arise later in the night after the alcohol has been absorbed. 

Try stress relief techniques 

Stress plays a huge part in our sleep routines. There are apps you can download on your phone to practice mindfulness and meditation which may help you rationalise your worries and relax the mind for a deeper sleep. Yoga works in a similar way to distress the mind, as you are focusing on your breathing, alleviating any aches and pains, which can take your mind off a stressful day. 

Write a journal or to-do list for the next day 

A journal allows you to communicate any worries that are bothering you, avoiding any need to analyse them mentally in bed. 

 While journaling may not be adequate to alleviate acute anxiety or persistent stress, it can aid in the reduction of worried thoughts. Physically writing about the things that are bothering you can assist you in visualising them, departmentalising your thoughts and reaffirming your feelings of relief. 

Create a relaxing bedroom environment 

This is crucial for a bedtime routine, as a relaxed and sleepy environment helps the brain associate the room with sleep, therefore making it easier for you to fall asleep when you decide to call it a night. Here are a few things you can do to create this type of environment: 

 

  • Dim the lights - Our sleep-wake cycles are generally guided by our circadian rhythms
  • Try different scents associated with sleep - Certain scents are said to have relaxing properties that might help people relax and feel sleepy
  • Play calming music - As you get ready for bed, listen to gentle, soothing music to help release hormones that enhance your mood. Feeling mentally at ease can also help your body relax. While music may assist you in falling asleep faster and sleeping better, make sure you listen to soothing music. Music that is energising and enthusiastic is unlikely to have the desired effect. Slow music without lyrics yields the finest benefits.

Why is a bedtime routine important? 

Bedtime rituals assist our brains understanding when it's time to sleep by establishing habits. When you repeat the same things in the same order every night, your brain learns to associate those activities with sleep. 

 

Bedtime routines can also help you sleep better at night by minimising late-night stress and worry. Your mind and nervous system are activated by anxious thoughts and if left untreated, these ideas might become more intense and lead to insomnia. You can keep your thoughts focused on other activities and encourage yourself to relax instead by sticking to a nightly routine. 

 

Poor sleep can impact many factors of our lives, including our health, but it shouldn’t be something that you believe is irreversible. Our sleep experts have put together a number of resources on how to get a better night’s sleep, with physical and mental health advice. Find out more about us and our mission to help our readers who are suffering with sleep problems. 

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Sleep Aids and What They Are For

With an ever-changing climate, there are numerous factors that can influence your day-to-day, including your sleep cycle. Natural sleep aids and over the counter sleep aids, when used correctly, can be a useful tool to drift off on evenings when sleep is challenging. Sleep aids have been proven to be some of the most common treatments for insomnia and other factors that could impact regulating sleep.     Sleep aids are only one component of the entire treatment approach for sleep problems because they could become addictive and may cause side effects. It is important to explore natural sleep aids and other techniques before looking at over the counter sleep aids. 

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