Getting a good night’s sleep can be challenging as an adult. The daily stress of life often catches up with you once it’s time to go to bed, keeping you from sleeping well and robbing your next day of focus and energy.
Thankfully, quality sleep is a learned behavior as much as a physiological function. Healthy bedtime habits can improve your sleep and help you feel more rested when you wake up. Here are seven healthy bedtime habits you should start today.
Write a To-Do List
Sometimes, worrying about tomorrow’s workload can keep you awake. To prevent rumination about tomorrow, try writing a to-do list for the next day after you finish work. This list will give your brain permission to relax because you won’t forget anything important overnight.
Try to keep your to-do list manageable and focused on daily tasks. For instance, you shouldn’t get carried away and write down everything left to do that week. Breaking tasks down into achievable chunks builds trust with yourself and keeps you from getting discouraged.
Tidy Your Bedroom
To help yourself relax before bed, you should keep your bedroom cool, calm and inviting. Use fans or an air purifier to deodorize this space. As part of your daily routine, put away laundry and clean any cat litter or dust off the floor.
Keep your sheets clean and air them out each morning to help your bed stay fresh for as long as possible. Make sure your mattress is comfortable, with plenty of blankets and pillows to support your head and prevent neck strain. When you’re lying in bed, your neck and back shouldn’t feel tense.
Prep for the Morning
Many adult professionals struggle to sleep because they’re thinking about everything they need to do the next morning before work. Take a few minutes to organize things so that you can fall asleep stress-free. For example, doing a quick pick-up session and clearing the sink of all dishes can help you start the next day feeling fresh.
If you work out in the morning, lay out your clothes and workwear so that they’re ready to go. It can be challenging to make decisions quickly right after you wake up, so doing these tasks now will save you time and set you up for success tomorrow.
Turn Off Screens
Turning off electronics a few hours before bed can also dramatically improve your quality of sleep. The blue light from digital screens mimics the sun’s wavelengths, making you feel alert. When the sun goes down, the light changes to a warm red, signaling to your body that it’s time to produce melatonin.
When you look at screens late at night, these natural rhythms are disrupted. Although you may be able to fall asleep at the right time, your body won’t produce melatonin at normal levels. Without enough of this hormone, your sleep won’t be as restful or satisfying. If you do need to be on a screen late at night, you can use blue-blocking glasses to reduce this effect.
Follow a Schedule
Another way to improve your sleep hygiene is to follow a sleep schedule. When you routinely go to bed and then get up at regular times, your body learns what to expect. Keeping your kids on a sleep schedule will help them function well and ensure that you’re also getting the rest you need.
Sleep schedules should be flexible – for example, you can sleep in when needed and go to bed later for special occasions. However, keeping a regular schedule overall will improve your sleep and help your body to thrive. Creating a nighttime routine is one way to ensure you always go to bed at around the same time.
Calm Your Body
After a long day of work, many people feel stiff and sore. Both desk jobs and manual work can leave workers feeling tight and tense. Working out physical tension before you go to bed is important to help you sleep well. One of the easiest ways to reduce your body’s tension is by taking a warm bath.
Before going to sleep, you should also consider taking a few minutes to stretch. Touch your toes, loosen your shoulders and stretch out your hip flexors. If you feel more tense than usual, consider doing a short yoga routine. Taking deep, measured breaths can also help you release tension and calm your body before bed.
Quiet Your Mind
In addition to soothing your body, quieting your mind will also improve your quality of sleep. Many people journal or read a favorite book before bed to take their thoughts off the day. Others make a gratitude list or clear their head with meditation or prayer.
The most effective way to quiet your mind will depend on your personal preferences. Find a practice that induces calm for you and reduces rumination before you go to sleep. To protect your peace of mind, avoid checking social media or the news right before bed.
Don’t Count Sheep
Training your body to sleep well takes time, patience and intention. With enough experimentation, you can build a sleep routine that gives your body and brain the rest it deserves instead of having to count sheep while you lie awake at night.
Use these healthy bedtime habits to create a routine that helps you fall asleep quickly and wake up rested. Even taking 30 minutes to unwind can significantly improve your quality of sleep and equip you with energy and focus for the next day.