Bed-time routines, only for kids? You’d be surprised!
Sleep is something that we, as adults, take for granted. Irregular hours, bad bed-time habits, not enough attention paid to what we’re sleeping in and on – it’s an endless list of examples of our neglect towards the time we spend asleep.
A simple night-time or bed-time routine brings the focus on your rest and sleep. By enabling your body to get good quality sleep regularly, you can improve both your physical and mental health in the long-term. Here are a few simple ideas for how you can design your own night-time routine for the best night’s sleep.
Set a bed-time
As adults, we’re tempted to let our after-work hours run for as long as they can. We end up switching aimlessly between apps on our phone until we fall asleep. This habit causes much more damage than we can see – to our physical and mental health.
The body’s circadian rhythm, or the ‘body clock’, is highly sensitive to change. Insomnia and other sleep disorders come about when this clock is out of sync with your body’s natural sleep-wake schedule and activities. Effects of sleep disorders include depression, lowered immunity, memory issues and increased risk of long-term health issues such as diabetes and heart disease.
Setting a reasonable bed-time which allows you to get 6-8 hours of good quality sleep even on weekends, allows your body clock to reset to a comfortable and healthy rhythm. This balance will keep you alert when you’re awake and allow you to have a full, restorative sleep at the end of your day. While it sounds simple enough, it’s easier said than done. Breaking habits as an adult is tough; you will definitely face some starting pains and inertia, but small steps add up, and pretty soon, you’ll be able to tell the difference in your health yourself.
Wind down with an evening ritual
Ever gotten into bed ready to sleep, only to find yourself awake for a long time, thinking about random things?
Your mind was probably not ready to rest yet. Both your mind and body need to wind down slowly over a period of time before your sleep system takes over.
Release your day’s stress by engaging in some relaxing activities that will activate your body’s natural sleep system. Listening to calming music, writing in your journal, reading a book and meditating are all activities that will signal your body that it will soon be time for sleep.
It’s good to avoid screen time as much as possible before bed, as they tend to keep you more psychologically engaged. The blue light that your gadgets emit also suppresses your melatonin levels, the hormone that is responsible for regulating your sleep-wake schedule.
While it’s best to start your wind-down routine 1-2 hours before your bed-time, 30-45min per day is a great start for those with busy lifestyles.