We are all creatures of habit, but sometimes, starting and sticking to a new routine can seem challenging at first. Most of us have a morning routine that helps set you up for the day ahead, yet not everyone has a nighttime routine and it’s not something you really hear mentioned. After a day at work, you mainly just want to relax and getting into a new routine is most likely the last thing on your mind. However, creating a bedtime routine is actually a simple yet effective way to help your body and mind relax before bed, which in turn leads to better quality sleep, enhancing your overall health and wellbeing. Read on to discover how you can create a nightly routine and why it’s important for better sleep.
A nighttime routine is when you carry out a set of activities in the same order each night, approximately 30-60 minutes before you go to bed. A bedtime routine should include calming activities such as listening to relaxing music, meditation, reading a book or taking a warm bath. You may find it hard at first to start a routine and on average it can take around a couple of months for your new routine to become a habit. But stick with it, as consistency is key for a good night’s sleep.
Your nighttime routine is just as important as your morning routine. With a morning routine, you don’t have to put much of an effort into thinking about what you need to do before you leave home for work. Morning routines are clearly beneficial, and so it’s no surprise that having a nightly routine is of a benefit too. A bedtime routine helps your brain separate day and night and clears your mind and body of the stresses of the day, so you relax into sleep. Keeping to a routine also creates structure, which promotes better mental, physical and emotional health.
The main benefits of creating a nighttime routine include:
Leads to more restful and better quality sleep
Reduces late night stress and anxiety
Makes it easier to get the sleep you need each night
It becomes the norm to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep
Helps you to wake up on time so you feel refreshed
Being consistent with your bedtime routine can have a powerful psychological impact, so make sure to follow the same steps each night before you go to bed. Over time, the activities you perform every night become cues that tell you it’s time for sleep. A good bedtime routine will make it easier to get the sleep you need and by creating habits that promote sleep, it will eventually become normal to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep throughout the night. And with repetition, your nighttime routine is reinforced, leading to more stable sleep patterns and improved sleep quality too. Getting the quality sleep you need each night means you feel rested the next day, lowers stress levels and improves your mood.
So, it’s clear to see that a routine can help with better sleep, but just how do you go about starting and sticking to a new nighttime routine? It’s a good idea to begin by deciding what you want to include in your routine. Think about what makes you feel calm and relaxed and incorporate those activities. Be consistent with time too and begin your bedtime routine at the same time each night, remember it takes a little while for it to become a habit, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you find it a challenge at first. Once your new nighttime routine has become consistent, reward yourself with something nice, such as some new bedding, so you can look forward to bedtime even more and get super snug and comfortable.
Try these one at a time for a week each to see which helps you without over-committing to a large and overstimulating routine change.
Decide on a set bedtime - sticking to the same bedtime and wake-up time each day, even at weekends, and following a consistent sleep schedule will lead you to feel naturally tired when bedtime rolls around. So, once you’ve decided on a time you want to go to bed, you can then schedule in your nighttime routine to begin anytime between 30-60 mins before.
Prepare your bedroom - make it a habit before bed to ensure your bedroom is cool, dark and quiet to optimise the quality of your sleep. Switch off any noisy electronics, clear away clutter and close the curtains to create a space that feels serene and tranquil.
Take a warm bath or shower - in the evening your core body temperature starts to drop to help prepare you for sleep. Mimicking this drop in body temperature, by taking a warm bath or shower, can help the body relax. Try not to take your bath immediately before bed as you need to allow time for your core body temperature to drop.
Listen to music or sleep sounds - relaxing music and soothing sounds may distract you from your worries and promote a sense of calm, helping you to fall asleep faster and improving the quality of your sleep too.
Practise relaxation techniques - mindfulness meditation, yoga and breathing exercises can help with letting go of physical and mental tension and help with relaxing you into sleep. See what works best for you and make it a part of your bedtime routine.
Read a good book - reading a book before bed is a great way to destress and unwind. As you can easily read while lying down, it gradually relaxes your mind and body into falling asleep, which leads to better quality sleep. On the flip side, a real page turner that you can’t put down could have the opposite effect, so we recommend re-reading something you’ve read before, or something less exciting.
Write down a to-do list or journal - writing down your thoughts and feelings, or a to-do list, is a good way to clear your mind before bed, making it easier to relax and fall asleep.
Try herbal tea - many people already avoid coffee before going to bed, but even having a drink of tea can impact sleep quality too. Instead, opt for non-caffeinated herbal tea, especially one with chamomile or lavender, to help calm your mind and promote sleep. Choose your herbal tea wisely, as lots of teas, for example green tea, have caffeine.
Give essential oils a try - essential oils act as a natural sleep aid and are worth incorporating into your nighttime routine. Lavender, chamomile and peppermint can help to alleviate any stress and anxiety, making you feel relaxed for a better night’s sleep.