Bedtime routines are highly recommended to start off a good night of sleep for babies and children, but they can also be helpful for adults. One of the National Sleep Foundation’s top 10 tips for getting a good night sleep is having a bedtime routine. Starting your night of sleep with a bedtime routine can help you avoid laying in bed awake, or waking up in the middle of the night. Consistently doing the same things every night before bed will signal to your body that it is time to sleep. It will help you relax and make falling asleep easier.
So what types of things can an adult do, besides brushing your teeth, for a bedtime routine? Choose something that relaxes you. Sip decaffeinated tea while you read for a few minutes. If you are a worrier, write down all of the things you might worry about when you lay down, and tell yourself you will look at the list and worry about it tomorrow. If you are task oriented and tomorrow’s tasks will distract you from sleeping tonight, write down your to-do list and then commit to not thinking about it again until the morning. Or, you can journal for a few minutes about thoughts from the day you just had. Even simple things that are necessary before bed can signal sleep, if they are done every night, such as starting the dishwasher, laying out clothes for the morning or picking up around the house.
Also, the NSF recommends avoiding doing anything but sleeping in your bed. If you want to read or watch TV before you sleep, do it in another room, and avoid drifting off to sleep. If you get drowsy, go to bed. This will help your body know that sleeping is what you do in your room, so when you enter your bed you will be ready to rest.
To implement your routine well, know how long it takes you to wind down. You may be a person who needs an hour of relaxation and routine before you can fall asleep. Or, maybe just brushing your teeth is enough of a routine to help you fall asleep. Keep in mind that some days may be more stressful than others and will require more time to relax. Be sure to plan accordingly on these days and expect to spend more of the evening calming down rather than trying to accomplish more tasks.
How do you unwind at the end of the day? What bedtime rituals help you fall asleep?