How to nail the perfect bedtime routine
Optimising your post bedtime routine is all about staying in sync with your circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, and fungi. Circadian rhythms are important in determining the sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals, including human beings. They are the product of millions of years of evolution and should be understood and respected by everyone.
The body clock is controlled by an area of the brain that responds to light, which is why humans are most alert while the sun is shining and are ready to sleep when it’s dark outside. Everyone’s rhythm is unique, this is why some people are “night owls” or “morning larks”. Fighting your natural urges to sleep messes with your circadian rhythm, and will ultimately diminish the quality of your sleep.
Follow My Tried and Tested Post Bedtime Routine in this Order:
Do NOT snooze!
This is rule number one! 15 minutes more sleep will not help you to feel refreshed and energised. Snoozing will lead you to fall into a deep sleep, which will cause sleep intertia – that confused, groggy and lethargic feeling. Your body is very good at knowing when you have had enough sleep, if you wake up 15 minutes before your alarm, that is your body telling you that its time to wake up.
Try and make sure you have a big glass of water next to your bed when you go to sleep. As soon as you wake up, drink as much of that water as you can. Water fires up your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins and gives your brain fuel. Drinking water will also help to inhibit the secretion of melatonin which is the sleep hormone.
Expose yourself to daylight
This is incredibly important if you are someone that finds it difficult to wake up in the morning. If your body, face and eyes are exposed to sunlight your body will decrease the secretion of melatonin and increase serotonin. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, regulates mood, appetite, memory, and sleep.
By exposing yourself to daylight you are sticking with your circadian rhythm which is your natural internal body clock.
In the winter this isn’t always possible, so I like to use a wake up light. The wake up light essentially mimics the sun rising and it can be great to use during the dark winter months. I like to use the “Body Clock” by Lumie.
Go to the toilet
This is good for two reasons. Firstly, you will have to get out of bed (hopefully!) which will mean you will immediately become more alert. Secondly, going to the toilet first thing in the morning is in sync with your circadian rhythm.
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. Getting out of bed and moving can be an incredibly powerful way to step your body into gear, you will mobilise and activate your joins, muscles, and brain.
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.
Long established negative sleeping habits won’t fix 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!