Do you struggle to fall asleep despite going to bed on time? Or you lie on the bed waiting for sleep to arrive and stay awake for hours at night?
I’d like to call your attention to the fact that you are not the only one turning sides while lying on the bed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “a third of US adults report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep.” Sleep deprivation is a common problem in the United States. And there are many reasons for it.
Moreover, sleep deprivation is linked to life-threatening diseases like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. It also leads to loss of concentration, which is one of the primary causes of road accidents. So, it’s time you stop using the old sleep-inducing methods and seek something new. Surely, there has to be a better solution to this problem.
Table of Contents
- What is a Bedtime Routine?
- What Do Researchers Have to Say About Bedtime Routines?
- Why Do You Need a Bedtime Routine?
- Things to Do Before Going to Bed
- Things Not to Do Before Going to Bed
- Creating a Bedtime Routine for Children and Adults
What is a Bedtime Routine?
A bedtime routine is not just for toddlers, even young and older adults can reap the benefits of it. A bedtime routine is a set of sleep-inducing activities or rituals you perform a few minutes before going to bed. Your sleeping routine does not have to be intricate. It can be as easy as listening to some jazz music or having a handful of chips.
Although for someone who is sleep-deprived and desperate for a solution, we recommend experimenting with several sleep-inducing exercises we are about to discuss further in this post.
For a chronic insomniac, merely putting something over the eyes (something like an eye mask) will not work. You need to implement a tried and tested method to provoke sleep.
What Do Researchers Have to Say About Bedtime Routines?
A study by sleep experts from Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, tells us a lot about the effectiveness of a bedtime routine in toddlers. Even children’s hospitals took part in this experiment administered by Institutional Review Boards at Allendale and Saint Joseph’s University.
The goal of this study was to find out how fast a bedtime routine can affect the sleep health of infants aged 8-18 months. Mothers of infants participating in this study were asked to perform a bedtime routine for two weeks. The routine consisted of warm baths, massages, and other relaxing activities.
After two weeks, they found out that sleep disturbances can be quickly improved in infants by implementing a bedtime routine involving the rituals mentioned previously in this section. We know that this study does not take into account the benefits of reducing household chaos or physiological changes. But we are sure that sleep disturbances can be considerably lessened by upgrading one’s overall lifestyle.
Why Do You Need a Bedtime Routine?
A bedtime routine is necessary for both adults and children. Life can be very stressful for an adult. Especially when there are so many distractions, take a smartphone, for example. A constant stream of text messages, emails, social media notifications, etc. can consume your free time even at night–just before going to sleep.
Like adults get distracted by their smartphones, children prefer to keep themselves busy by playing video games or quarreling with their siblings. You don’t want your kid to be all worked up before going to bed — a hyperactive child is an antithesis to a night of sound sleep. This is why it is necessary to implement a relaxing and soothing bedtime ritual for yourself and your kids.
Moreover, a properly structured bedtime routine can help you transition from an active, energetic, and intense state of mind to a relaxed, carefree, and untroubled one. This process does not happen by itself (it requires a conscious effort from your side). This is why most people take 30-40 minutes just to fall asleep. They fidget with their phones, turn sides, or just stare at the alarm clock.
With a well-designed bedtime routine, you can get more sleep as you won’t spend 30-40 minutes struggling to fall asleep.
Things to Do Before Going to Bed
1) Always Go to Bed on Time
The easy way to make sure you always go to bed on time is to set an alarm clock or a reminder on your phone for 30 minutes before bedtime. This is if your schedule involves rotational work shifts, or you need to compensate for sleep loss on weekends.
Basically, setting an alarm clock works excellent when you do not wake up at the same time each day of the week.
However, if you have a regular 9-to-5 job and you can manage to wake up at the same time every day, you do not need an alarm clock to tell you when to sleep.
As we mentioned earlier, our body has an internal biological clock that keeps ticking continuously. Unless you disrupt its default setting by waking up at different times, it will work perfectly — it will indicate bedtime by making you feel tired and sluggish.
2) Have a Cup of Decaffeinated Green Tea
Caffeine can have a stimulating effect that lasts for 3-4 hours. Unless you are one of those people who do not respond to caffeine, make sure you do not consume coffee, black tea, or soft drinks 5-6 hours before going to bed.
Instead, have a cup of decaffeinated green tea. Green tea not only helps you sleep better but also helps you lose weight, prevents heartburns, and acts as a natural cleanser.
3) Take Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium pills are known for their laxative properties, but they can also treat sleep disorders like restless leg syndrome and insomnia.
Magnesium helps your muscles unwind and loosen up before bedtime. Also, it is good for your heart and nervous system. However, if you don’t like the idea of popping a pill before going to bed, you can consume magnesium-rich foods like dark chocolate, avocados, tofu, fish, or nuts.
4) Create a Relaxing Ambiance in Your Room
Make your bedroom cozy and comfy as possible. This is another thing you should do before going to bed. Now, this might need some investment if you live in an unfurnished home.
To begin with, shop for bedding with warm colors like red, orange, yellow, etc. Warm colors on your bed will compensate for white or beige colored walls. Secondly, make sure you switch off all white lights in the room. Instead, have warm-colored lights (golden yellow preferably) already plugged in–ready to switch on 1-2 hours before going to bed.
Things Not to Do Before Going to Bed
1) Consume Caffeine or Alcohol
As we mentioned earlier, caffeine can have a stimulating effect on your mind and body. Indeed, some people do not feel the stimulating effects of it — some people can drink a mug of coffee before bed and still fall asleep in seconds.
But it can make you urinate a lot, and you don’t want to wake up 2-3 times in the middle of your sleep. The same goes for alcohol. Alcoholic drinks make you feel relaxed for a while, but they diminish the quality of sleep.
2) Use Your Phone in Bed
We understand how great it feels to fall asleep listening to your favorite podcast or watching an ASMR video. And you should continue to use sleep aids, but 30 minutes before going to bed — not while lying in bed trying to fall asleep. A notification can pop up any minute, so it is wise to keep your phone on silent mode, away from your bed.
3) Sleep at the Wrong Temperature
Wondering what the most optimal room temperature for sleeping is? Well, there is no one answer to this question. It depends on factors like the region you stay in, the number of blankets you sleep under, the quality of your duvet, whether you like to keep the window open while sleeping, etc. However, according to research, the optimal bedroom temperature should be maintained between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Creating a Bedtime Routine for Children and Adults
Whether you wish to create a bedtime routine for children or adults in your home, it is imperative to use mobile apps to track and manage daily routine/schedule.
Although most of these apps are meant to help you schedule the day or the week, they can also be useful in creating a bedtime routine. We recommend a free of cost app named Todoist.
Secondly, you should take the following things into account while creating a bedtime routine for children:
1) For a toddler, it is essential to keep the bedtime routine short (10-15 minutes long). A lengthy routine can wear them out.
2) Make sure you are continuously making modifications to the bedtime routine of your child as they grow older. With age, their habits and behaviors ought to change.
3) Keep the bedtime routine easy and flexible. You don’t want to be too harsh on your children.
4) Play a relaxing song (keep the volume low) in the background while you prepare your baby for bedtime.
5) Do not forget to offer bedtime snacks to your children. Something like whole-grain cereal with milk or crackers would suffice.
Lastly, take the following things into account while creating a bedtime routine for adults:
1) Make sure the mattress and pillow are comfortable. When it comes to bedding, everyone has their preferences.
2) Add a warm bath to the bedtime routine. A warm bath can make you feel toasty and relaxed.
3) Have a bedtime snack. A banana or a handful of chips would be perfect before going to bed.
4) Add a 10-minute meditation session to the bedtime routine.
5) Finally, play some relaxing music to calm and unwind, for you or the person you are creating this routine for, after a long day at work.
When it comes to unwinding for bed, everyone likes to do different things. If having a nighttime tea is relaxing for one person, it can have an opposite effect on another. So, it is vital to come up with a bedtime routine as per personal preferences.
A bedtime routine helps you streamline the process of sleep. You don’t want to lie in bed thinking about things that you did wrong during the day. We hope this will help you create a bedtime routine for yourself, your children, or other adults.