According to the Center for Disease Control, about one in three adults don’t get enough sleep. A lack of sleep has been linked to many chronic conditions and diseases, like depression, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. Therefore, it’s imperative that you maintain a bedtime routine that can help you fall asleep faster and improve the type of sleep that you’re getting. Here’s how.
Stick to a bedtime
The most important part of a routine is choosing a bedtime and sticking to it. Select a time that makes the most sense for your lifestyle and don’t stray from it unless absolutely necessary. When you start falling asleep at the same time each night, your body creates a sleep-wake cycle and it helps to train your brain to naturally feel tired when it’s time for bed. Once you decide on a time that you want to start falling asleep, figure out how much time you need to prepare for sleep. But you’ll first need to determine which practices you want to incorporate into your bedtime routine.
Throughout the day, we often ignore our bodies in order to stay focused on tasks like work, school, or taking care of pets and children. If you continue to ignore feelings of stress, you could struggle with falling or staying asleep. One method of releasing stressful or anxious feelings is to meditate before bed. Doing so can help you relax mentally and physically, as you are taking the time to be more mindful of what’s going on with your body and mind. If you’re not a fan of sitting in silence, try using an app like Calm or Headspace.
Listen to music
Another way to calm your mind and body is to listen to music before heading to bed. You’ll want to avoid songs with a high BPM (beats per minute) or instruments that are exceptionally loud, like what you’ll find in rock music. When contributing to WebMD.com, Michael Breus, Ph.D., stated that “Reputable studies find that music with a rhythm of about 60 beats a minute helps people fall asleep. As you are falling asleep, your heart rate begins to slow, and starts to move toward that 60-beats-per-minute range.” You can utilize various websites and apps to find the BPM of certain songs and playlists crafted especially for sleep.
Journal your thoughts
If you often find yourself tossing and turning because you can’t stop thinking about the next day or the week ahead, journaling might be a good thing to add to your bedtime routine. Setting aside just 5-10 minutes each night to write down your thoughts and ideas could help your brain focus on falling asleep instead of planning your work day. You can start simple with a quick to-do list and gradually move to adding tasks that need to be completed in the following days. Writing down your thoughts about specific events or conversations that happened can also help you move on from or process them better.
If you’re still struggling to sleep after adding some of these things into your bedtime routine, you may need to contact your physician for additional help. They may prescribe you with a sleep aid or suggest a sleep study to better understand what’s going on.