How to nail the perfect bedtime routine
Most people have their own morning ritual they go through that gets them ready for the day, I would argue that a night-time routine is more important. The hour before you go to sleep is just as important as the sleep itself. As I discussed in my previous article, the average person needs five efficient cycles of sleep every night. By optimising your bedtime routine not only will you increase the quality of those cycles, you will also prepare your body for rest, meaning you will fall asleep quicker.
Follow my tried and tested pre-sleep routine in this order:
Stop Drinking Water
About an hour before your bed time stop drinking water. Waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom causes a big disruption to your sleep cycles. If you are desperate just have a few sips, not a whole glass.
Switch off from the modern world
For thousands of years our daily habits and routines were determined by the sun. As the sun goes down the light changes, becoming more and more orange. The dimming of the light initiates melatonin secretion (the sleep hormone) in the brain, this was the que for early Man to eat whatever had been caught that day and start preparing for sleep. The only light source after sunset was the amber glow of the fire.
This pattern is disrupted by modern life; the blue light that comes off screens mimics the light of full daylight, messing with the secretion of melatonin and ultimately affecting your sleep patterns.
By switching off your gadgets you are eliminating the risk of being exposed to the blue light. Some phones and laptops now come with a filter that can gradually make the screen more orange, these are definitely worth using.
The blue light isn’t the only reason technology can keep us awake at night. Checking social media feeds can keep the brain active and stimulated, as well as increasing the likelihood of overthinking and worrying about things as we are trying to drift off.
This may sound like an odd one, but spending 10-15 minutes washing your dishes and tidying the house can be a great way to help you to switch off and bring your attention to the here and now. Not only that, having a clean and tidy house can help you to feel less stressed – A 2010 study published in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that people who thought they had cluttered homes expressed higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Bringing your attention and connecting with your body can be a great way to create mindfulness. Being mindful means that you are focusing on the present moment, not worrying about what happened in the past or the future. Mindfulness has been shown to decrease stress and increase relaxation, both have a big effect on the likelihood of falling asleep.
Additionally, getting into a regular stretching habit can have a big effect on your flexibility and mobility. Being able to move properly is going to benefit your life in so many ways, not only will your workouts be more effective, you are much less likely to get injured. Sustaining a decent level of flexibility and mobility as you get older is essential.
Make A List
I am inclined to lie there and start worrying about things I need to do the next day, if this sounds like you it might be worth having a pen and a notepad next to your bed. Just before I switch my lights off, I brainstorm about what needs to be done the next day, write it all down and then I don’t need to worry about it. Equally if something pops into your head after you have turned the light off, write it down!
Long established negative sleeping habits won’t x themselves overnight, but small changes like these over a long period of time can have a profound effect on the quality of your sleep as well as aiding your health and fitness goals!