Mastering Your Sleep: The Art of Nighttime Routines
Updated: Mar 15
If you're anything like me, your sleep schedule is all over the place. Restless nights can be a common occurrence – the bedding is too warm, the pillows are lumpy, and sleep seems elusive. I'm practically a member of the Insomnia Club, joining other sleep-deprived individuals who trudge through the day and curse the moon at night. While I've attempted the usual remedies, such as counting sheep or sipping warm milk before bed, I've finally discovered a method for mastering sleep. It requires a little time investment to evaluate your habits... such as tracking the time you go to bed and the time you rise, as well as the activities you do just before bed. And then, thoughtfully develop a nighttime routine that will work for you! Consistently adhering to a bedtime routine will reveal the key to achieve peaceful sleep. By establishing a nightly routine and sticking to it, you’ll unlock the secrets to blissful slumber.
The importance of sleep cannot be overstated as it is crucial to every aspect of our life, serving as the cornerstone for physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Shockingly, as per the National Sleep Foundation, almost half of adults suffer from inadequate sleep at least once a week, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that an astounding 70% of high school students do not get the recommended amount of sleep each night.
Some tips to get better sleep: Tip #1 - Keep a regular sleep schedule
Have you heard this one before? Of course you have! In my opinion, the most important factor in getting better sleep is to regulate your sleep cycle. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will help regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. This helps the body to get used to the routine and send signals to the brain to indicate when it is time to sleep and wake up. What works for me is a 10 pm to 6 am schedule. This way, I have plenty of time to unwind after a long day at work AND it's an "acceptable" bedtime on the weekends too! And in case you are wondering, I am NOT a fan of springing forward, or falling back!!!
Tip #2 - Set an automatic reminder (on your phone, or watch, or Google Assistant) to "wind down" 60-minutes prior to going to bed.
Watching another episode of your current show on Netflix is always fun, but getting a good night's rest and feeling energized the next day is better! This is the hardest one for me to do. By setting a reminder, I am more conscious of the time and can make better choices for myself. Without a reminder, hours just flew by - without even noticing!
Tip #3 - Clean up clutter and distracting items.
This tip isn't well-known, but I found that it's really helpful! This task can even set up your tomorrow for success! Eliminate any clutter that might make your room feel chaotic. Clutter preoccupies the mind, leaving you feeling anxious and stressed. It's important to put things away at night, especially those related to work or school. Cortisol (your stress hormone) can be activated by "stuff" and makes it harder to fall asleep.
"Sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together." - Thomas Dekker
Tip #4 - Create a sleep-conducive environment.
Another important factor that affects sleep is your environment. Make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark. Invest in comfortable bedding and supportive pillows. Remove any distractions, such as TVs or computers - and yes, your phones too. I am sure you've heard about the importance of minimizing blue lights.... I say, "all lights," Having a sleep-conducive environment will help you relax and fall asleep quickly.
Tip #5 - Be mindful of what you eat and drink before bed.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. They are known to interfere with sleep patterns. It is recommended to avoid these substances at least 6 hours before bed. Be mindful of what time you are eating dinner and watch those late-evening/night snacks. It is not good to sleep immediately after eating a large meal because the digestion process is still ongoing. When you lie down, the digestive system slows down, causing discomfort, bloating, heartburn among other issues. This can also disrupt the quality of your sleep. It is generally advised to wait at least two to three hours after eating before going to bed to allow your body to digest the food properly. This is a difficult one for me too! But what I have found is that when I am full right before I go to bed, I have a really hard time falling asleep!
Tip #6 - Cancel out disruptive noise
Noise can significantly affect our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. I just started using those disposable foam ear plugs (I think my husband's snoring is getting louder each year)! You can also try a white (or brown) noise machine or channel. Sounds like rainfall or thunderstorms are great too1 It may not be possible to eliminate ALL noise, but consider what you hear at night and try to make some adjustments.
Tip #7 - Enjoy a "night cap" just before bed
Here are some suggestions:
Chamomile tea: This tea has natural relaxing properties that can help calm the mind and body before bed.
Warm milk: Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps induce sleep.
Valerian root tea: Studies suggest that Valerian root tea can promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.
Other herbal teas: Many herbal teas have natural calming properties that can promote relaxation and sleep. My favorite is "Sleepy-Time Tea" for obvious reasons.
Or just warm water with honey and lemon.
Tip #8 - Mindfulness techniques
Mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and visualization help calm your mind, reduce anxiety, and stress levels - - making it easier to fall asleep. Mindfulness practices helps the body enter a state of calm and relaxation. Personally, I use the body scan meditation. If I'm still struggling to fall asleep after that, then I focus on deep breathing and count each breath. I can't tell you how many times this has worked for me!
"Good sleep is a critical foundation of overall health and well-being, providing the necessary time for our bodies, and minds to recharge and repair for the challenges of a new day."
Review your sleep habits and then make some changes.
If you constantly have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, review your sleep habits. Sleep hygiene is a set of healthy behaviors and habits that can set you up for a better night's sleep. It involves regulating your sleep environment, enhancing relaxation, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule.
If you want some help with this, book your complimentary 30-minute consultation with Blue Collar Consulting's Co-Founder & Consultant, Chuck Price, MS. https://calendly.com/chuck-price. He will talk with you about some of our services - - like Virtual Coaching or our Resiliency Workshops. We look forward to working with you!
Until then, sleep well.
With Love, Brooke & Henry