When your days are full of constant productivity, your brain can’t turn off that “go, go, go” mentality on command without priming your body for sleep. Instead of hopping into bed still jittery and wired from a stimulating day, doing a relaxing activity or a series of relaxing activities before bed every night will calm down your mind and send a signal to your body that you’re about to drift off to sleep. Establishing a consistent nighttime routine will help you unwind before bed and will guarantee a deep, replenishing slumber.
If you follow a nighttime routine every night about 30 minutes to one hour before you fall asleep, your body will naturally start to get tired at that time. Consistent sleep schedules reinforce your body’s natural circadian rhythm, which helps you sleep longer and more soundly while warding off a range of health issues, such as weight gain and an impaired metabolism. Since one in three adults struggle to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep every night, they increase their risk of cardiovascular disease, impaired memory, anxiety and other health problems. So, a regular bedtime routine can help you get enough sleep, ward off a handful of health issues and be more productive. With a consistent evening ritual, you’ll be much more likely to jump out of bed the next morning, ready to conquer another day.
The most effective bedtime routines help you reflect on the day, calm down your body before bed and prepare you for the next morning. You can do any relaxing activity that suits your needs and preferences, but if you aren’t sure where to start, these peaceful practices will surely lengthen and enrich your sleep.
Turn off all electronics
If you spend your evenings mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or frequently checking your inbox, you’ll probably notice your muscles tensing up and your heart beating faster. With social media platforms and news sites easily accessible on your smartphone, you receive constant reminders of upcoming deadlines, political arguments or unjust violence, which escalate anxiety levels and make falling asleep a difficult feat. Plus, the blue light from your electronics interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that leads to restful sleep. The bright light on your phone and computer trick your body into thinking it’s daytime, making you feel wide awake at night. To bring down your stress levels and relax your body, do yourself a favor and ditch your devices.
Immerse yourself in a good book
When you read a riveting novel, you temporarily escape the real world and your incessant thoughts and inhabit an imaginative place instead. Reading is a great way to distract yourself from daily stressors and unresolved problems that keep you up at night. Just six minutes of reading before bed releases tension, calms nerves and reduces stress by 68 percent, which all promote better quality sleep. Anyone can set aside a few minutes during their evenings to crack open a good book, so reading is a convenient and realistic nighttime activity.
Reflect on your day
Instead of climbing into bed holding on to all of your worries from the day, you can leave them at the door by getting them down on paper. Jotting down your thoughts and feelings can help you avoid getting stuck in a spiral of negative thinking and anxiety and a feeling of restlessness that can interfere with your sleep.
In addition to writing down any lingering thoughts and feelings, you can take the time to jot down all of your accomplishments from the day, and you can identify any areas in which you’d like to improve. This practice of reviewing the day allows you to end your day on a positive note and prepare you for a more successful next day. Journaling has been proven to reduce stress and boost your emotional intelligence, so reflecting and writing will make sleep more feasible.
Stretch your limbs
Doing a few slow stretches before hitting the hay is an excellent way to fall asleep and stay asleep. Meditative movements shift your attention from daily stressors to your breath and body, which is a mindful practice that increases your sleep quality. Stretching also alleviates muscle tension and relaxes your muscles, which reduces the likelihood that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a nagging pain or irritating muscle cramp.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future right before bed, which can make it a challenge to drift off to sleep. Taking a few minutes to meditate before you fall asleep allows you to let go of any concerns and focus more on the present moment. Whether you follow a progressive muscle relaxation, visualization or deep breathing exercise, meditating will help you focus on your breath and body rather than getting trapped in thoughts and feelings that don’t serve you. Mindfulness reduces anxiety, improves sleep quality and prevents insomnia, so you’ll be able to sleep like a baby all night.
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