Many people struggle with falling asleep and getting the appropriate amount of sleep. According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep and this lack of sleep has been linked to several chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and depression (1). There are numerous factors into why this is happening and for the most part, there are things we can do to help lessen this problem but not everyone knows how. Therefore, I would like to share with you some solid bedtime routine tips to fall asleep faster and get more sleep.
These tips will revolve around habits since many say that we are creatures of habit. So, it only makes sense to focus on instilling habits into our daily lives that can us sleep better on a consistent basis. If we can get some of the following that some may consider to be more of a task or chore to be done subconsciously or at least blended into our daily bedtime routine, I believe you will be falling asleep faster and getting more sleep regularly soon. Let’s take a look at these solid bedtime routine tips below.
Be Physically Active
It’s well known that exercise can help one to fall asleep faster and improve sleep quality (2). The release of hormones and lowering of core body temperature post-exercise helps to facilitate sleep. Also, it burns off energy tiring you down. For some, it’s better to exercise in the morning or afternoon but for others such as myself, exercise at night works well. If done at night, do it an hour or two before bed. Allow time for your body to cool down.
Make a to-do list for the day and get to work. A bedtime routine doesn’t have to start at bedtime. It can start at the beginning of your day. If you keep yourself busy throughout the day, you eventually run out of energy and need to sleep. Pick a hobby to do, do some yard work, take a class, volunteer your time, and/or workout. Fill your schedule and start knocking items off your list.
Cut Off Electronics
I know you don’t want to do it but cutting off the tv, laptop, tablet, and cell phone at least 30 minutes before can make a difference. These devices emit blue light which boosts attention, reaction times, and mood. This is not the type of stimulation you need at bedtime, it can throw off the body’s circadian rhythm and suppress the body’s release of melatonin (3, 4).
Warm Shower or Bath
A warm shower seems to have similar effects that exercise has on the body for sleep. The warm water raises the body temperature then cools it down afterward helping one to go to sleep. It’s recommended not to take this warm shower or bath too close to bedtime to give the body a chance to cool down. If you prefer doing it close to bedtime or have no choice, just find a relaxing activity to do until you fall asleep. When taking a bath, I recommend Dr. Teals Foam Bath, they make foam baths to help with sleep specifically.
Eat a Light Snack or Drink Tea
Eat a light snack rich in tryptophan and melatonin 1-2 hours before bed. Melatonin is a well-known hormone that helps regulate circadian rhythm and synchronize our sleep-wake cycle with night and day helping us go to sleep and tryptophan is a known precursor of melatonin (5, 6). Some sources of tryptophan and melatonin would be fish, eggs, nuts, turkey, edamame, seeds, or mushrooms (7). Drinking teas such as chamomile, valerian root, lavender, or some teas in the mint family such as spearmint and lemon balm can also help with sleep (8). Tea has been used for many years to aid in sleep. A word of caution, don’t drink a boatload of tea right before bed unless you don’t mind making a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I suggest a small cup of tea 1-2 hours before bed.
I don’t know about you but every time I would read a book in class in high school, I would fall asleep. It didn’t matter if I got a full night’s rest. Don’t read a book on a tablet, phone or computer; the blue light emitting from it may mess with your circadian rhythm. Read a good old paperback book or magazine.
Listen to Soft Sounds or Something Boring
Another solid bedtime routine tip is to listen to something boring or some soft sounds. This worked wonders for me when wanting to fall asleep. I would actually listen to something interesting that I wanted to learn but it was in a monotone voice just how some of my teachers would talk in school. I would fall asleep every time, just like above when it came to reading. You could also try nature sounds such as running water, thunderstorms, rain, wind, crickets, and so forth.
Perhaps you have some thoughts running through your mind that are worrying you or stressing you out, transfer that energy onto paper. Keep a journal and pen near your bed to write out those thoughts. You want to go to bed relaxed, besides worrying and stressing won’t change anything but make you lose sleep and age faster. Get some rest and deal with the issues tomorrow if you can.
Set the Mood
Make your bedroom the place be for some well earned quality sleep. Set the mood for sleep at bedtime. It’s not time to do more work on your laptop or have a bunch of lights on in the room. Make the room dark as possible, turn on the fan or lower the temperature on the thermostat, turn off your electronics except for your sound machine that plays soft restful sounds, spray your sleep-inducing essential oils, and invest in a comfortable mattress and bedding. Set the mood for sleep.
Pray or Meditate
Don’t feel like journaling, talk to a higher power by praying. Drop to your knees or lie in bed, do it however you sit fit. Another option is to meditate to unload the days’ burdens and clear your mind. You could do this by focusing on your breathing and letting go of thoughts by refocusing on breathing. There are several ways to go about meditating. Find what works best for you, the goal is to be at peace and to a point of relaxation to fall asleep.
Feeling restless still? Get intimate with your significant other or yourself. The bedroom is also for intimacy. When we get entangled with our significant other or even ourselves, the hormones oxytocin, dopamine, prolactin, and progesterone kick in helping us feel relaxed (9, 10). Sexual release in a way that’s not harmful to yourself or others may help you fall asleep faster and get more sleep.
As I have gotten older and life tosses more responsibility on me, I have learned to value sleep so much more. I’m pretty sure you have too, otherwise you may not be reading this. Give the tips above a try, starting today. There is no need to miss out anymore on sleep, besides your body needs it to function properly. Share this with your family, friends, co-worker, or anyone you know in need of more sleep.
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Be Healthy, Be Balanced, Be You