As the evening winds down, are you ready for bed? For many people, going to bed can be a frustrating experience. Physical discomfort and mental stress can make sleep difficult. Those that fall easily to sleep may struggle to wake in the morning. However, getting more than seven hours of sleep per night is central to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Luckily, there are small steps that you can take to make it easier to sleep. One of them is to develop a bedtime routine.
Reasons to Develop a Bedtime Routine
Getting a better night’s sleep can help you manage chronic pain and keep a positive attitude. A small study showed that participants had lower pain tolerance when they had 4 hours of sleep instead of 8 hours. What this study suggests that more sleep may increase your threshold for chronic pain. Another benefit of more rest is that you can regulate negative emotions. Everyone has experienced the irritability that comes with a lack of sleep. Those who sleep enough each night are less irritable and can deal with unpleasant situations better.
A bedtime routine is one way to get the healthy sleep that makes your life better.
Elements of a Bedtime Routine
There are two elements of a bedtime routine: a set schedule and a set pattern of activities. Basically, a set schedule is going to bed at the same time each night, even on the weekends and holidays. This consistent timing reinforces your sleep-wake cycle, meaning that your body will naturally start to tire at the same time each night. Getting up in the morning may also be less arduous if you get enough sleep. Doing the same activities before bed also gives your body a hint that it’s time to go to sleep. Depending on how hard it is for you to get to sleep, you might need a long list of activities each night or just one.
Calming Bedtime Activities
Activities before bed should prepare your mind for rest. One activity that may help is taking a warm bath. Many people find it calming. Add some lavender or other soothing scents to the bath to relax even further. Reading a book, especially a dull one, can also send some people to sleep. Progressive muscle relaxation can also help you relax in bed. You can start with your toes and work your way toward your head, tensing and releasing one muscle group at a time. Hopefully, you’ll be asleep before you reach your head!
Yoga can also be an appropriate bedtime activity, especially if you are someone that always naps during Corpse Pose at the end of class. The goal is not to get a good workout though. Challenging poses should be left to midday. Try easier poses like Child’s Pose and Legs Up the Wall. Some of these poses can even be done in bed. Just make sure you have a supportive bed. Hopefully moving into Corpse Pose at the end will also help you fall asleep.
There are a few activities that you should avoid before bed. While watching a movie or reading online forums may seem relaxing, these activities don’t help you sleep better. The light emitted from electronic devices and high-efficiency bulbs has blue spectrum light, which can alter your sleep cycle. In fact, it can delay the release of hormones that make you feel sleepy by nearly 3 hours. If you want to slip into sleep quickly, stop watching screens and switch to incandescent bulbs a few hours before bed.
These calming activities and a set bedtime can help you get better sleep without medication. Sleeping enough hours per night can have a positive impact on your health. It makes you more tolerant of both chronic pain and life’s many annoyances. Plus, a bedtime routine can help you make time for self-care and enjoying life’s little luxuries, like a warm bath and cup of chamomile tea.
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