How important is a bedtime routine?
In addition to getting the kids ready for bed, picking out the next day’s outfit, brushing your teeth and setting your alarm, do you carve out some “me time” where you unwind and relax before heading off to bed? Establishing a nightly relaxing bedtime routine can work wonders in helping get your mind and body ready for a night of calming, restorative sleep, and is especially beneficial for those who suffer from insomnia. How you choose to decompress after a long, hectic day is up to you, as long as it’s relaxing and enjoyable. Read on to learn some of our favorite tips.
How Long Should My Routine Be? The amount of time it takes to unwind varies from person to person. Obviously, the more time you spend just chilling out, the better, but shoot for at least 30 to 60 minutes each night. If you only have 15 minutes, that works to. Whether you have 5, 20, or 90 minutes, any time is better than no time.
Bedtime Routine Suggestions
Switch Off Your Electronics Many of you may be saying, “No way! I need my electronics; surfing the Internet, playing games on my tablet or watching TV relaxes me.” While you think they are relaxing you, research reveals that not only do they stimulate your brain, the light emitted from these devices can interfere with your internal body clock, keeping you awake. In addition, if you’re in the habit of checking work emails, this can create stress and worry — not something you want to experience before bed.
Relaxation Exercises Worry, stress and a busy mind are frequent reasons for tossing and turning night after night. Practicing relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or guided imagery has been proven to be effective. One breathing exercise to try is closing your eyes and turning all your attention to your natural breathing pattern as you visualize the air entering your nose and nourishing all the various parts of your body — your brain, arms, neck, legs, etc. — then releasing the tension as you exhale. Guided imagery is similarly easy; with your eyes close, visualize a landscape, scene or memory that brings you a sense of calm. Spend time visualizing all the details as you relax. If your mind wanders to your to-do list, simply push that thought away and go back to your serene image.
Bring Down Your Core Temperature The body associates a lowering core body temperature as a signal to fall asleep. Those who have trouble falling asleep have been found to have a warmer body temperature right before bedtime. Try lowering your bedroom and body temperature by setting your thermostat to a cooler temperature and switching to temperature-regulating bedding and moisture wicking sleepwear.
Other Relaxing Bedtime Tips Include:
- Reading a Book
- Listening to soothing music (like music played during a massage at a spa)
- Write down any worries and reminders for the next day; set it aside and put it out of your mind
- Meditate or pray