collaborative post | When it comes to having a bedtime routine and getting proper sleep, there are a few mistakes that many of us make that sabotage the entire process. Not only is sleep essential for productivity, but it also improves your physical performance, your mood and improves your mental health.
What Not to Do
First, it is essential to talk about what you shouldn’t do before bed. While this list can get extensive, and different aspects will affect everyone differently, these are some of the biggest factors that can harm your sleep.
Your initial sleeping position can be something that affects your sleep and also can make falling asleep difficult. Different bed sizes can also make us subconsciously sleep in a way that isn’t optimal, especially if your bed is too small.
The best thing to do is to limit the number of pillows and blankets on your bed, as you can often twist yourself into a position that can cause muscle stiffness and soreness the next day. Instead, use one of two pillows, and try to fall asleep on your back or side, not your front.
Food & Drink
Avoid food and drinks that are high in sugar, carbohydrates, and caffeine. These are stimulants that will keep you awake for hours. Nicotine is another stimulant to avoid, as it can act in the same way as having an energy drink or coffee.
This is one of the oldest pieces of advice, but it is important to completely cut out screen time when you want to go to bed; this includes watching TV and going on your phone. These things act as brain stimulants and will keep your brain active long after you close your eyes.
If you are someone who likes to take naps, this can typically be a cause for bad sleep at night time. Sleep is needed to let the body recover and regain energy; if you are doing that during the day, then you will still have all that energy come bedtime, and falling asleep can be very difficult.
What to Do
Now we get to what you should be doing before bed, as well as what should be included in your bedtime routine every single night.
One of the most crucial aspects of a bedtime routine is to have a consistent bedtime. There is little to no benefit in getting 8-10 hours of sleep on a Saturday night if you have only had 4-6 hours of sleep Monday through Friday.
A consistent bedtime will also train your body to know when to shut down for the day. This will help you get good-quality sleep more often than not, and exceptions won’t have a massive impact on your productivity the next day.
Make Your Bedroom Cosy
Many studies have shown that a critical part of a nighttime and sleep routine is to have a cosy and comfortable bedroom. Using an extreme example, you are likelier to fall asleep in a dark room with soft bed linen than in a brightly lit room, and you’re too hot or cold.
Therefore, always ensure your linen is clean, and your bed is made, make sure the room temperature is comfortable, and even spray a relaxing room scent like jasmine or lavender; these things will calm and relax your body and mind and make sleep much easier.
Reading is an age-old trick to help almost anyone fall asleep. Reading works your brain in a way that doesn’t stimulate it but instead allows it to relax and calm down. Therefore, reading a few pages or a chapter or two of a book every night can be a quick and simple way to fall asleep.
It is important to note that reading on a phone or tablet doesn’t have the same effect, as the blue light from the device will keep your brain more active than relaxed.
Process/Handle Any Stress
This can be tough for some, but a habit to that you should try and do every night is to process and deal with any stress you may have from the day. Stress is one of the biggest causes of bad sleep and can ruin the bedtime routine of almost anyone.
Therefore, before bed, try and do something that helps you relieve this stress; write in a journal, do breathing exercises, or do bedtime yoga.
Use a Sleep Aid
Finally, if you have been struggling to sleep and you are changing your sleep routine, it may be helpful to use a sleep aid of some kind. Two of the best ones are arguably an eye mask and a device that can play calming sounds.
A sleep mask will help block out light, and gentle pressure on the eyelids has also been shown to help calm you down and help you relax. A sleep mask is also something that can be beneficial if you travel a lot or spend a lot of time in hotels, for instance, as it can be the thing that triggers your brain into relaxing, therefore making sleep easier to achieve.