We all understand the importance of sleep, however for many of us, it can be difficult to prioritize and adequately prepare for rest in the midst of our busy schedules. Here are 5 practical steps you can take to create a healthy bedtime routine and help you better prepare your mind and body for a good night’s sleep.
We all know how vital sleep is to our health and well-being. When we get enough of it, our immune system functions better, our weight is easier to regulate, and we are less susceptible to stress and anxiety. However, the amount of sleep we are able to get will vary depending on the season we find ourselves in. A crying babe cares little about whether or not we get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep, teenagers always want to talk just as we’re ready to hit the sack, and sometimes the work/home juggle sees us burning the candle at both ends to meet deadlines. But within our own unique context, we need to prioritize a healthy bedtime routine—and more specifically sleep—in whatever way we can.
No matter the season of life you find yourself in, get creative within your reality and establish some rhythms and habits to maximize whatever rest you are able to get. Try incorporating some of these helpful sleep remedies into your nightly bedtime routine and reclaim the precious gift of sleep.
5 Simple Steps to a Healthy Bedtime Routine
1. REDUCE CAFFEINE CONSUMPTION
Unless you’re one of those extremely rare individuals whose sleep is unaffected by caffeine, the experts recommend avoiding caffeinated drinks six hours before bed-time. Even for the coffee-lover, avoid drinking it after midday unless you know you’ll be having a late-night or there is just no other way to survive the day.
Keep a good selection of teas or an alternative beverage on hand to help reduce the temptation to pour another cup of coffee. The next time you’re tempted to reach for the coffee pot mid-afternoon, try substituting it for a refreshing glass of iced water, kombucha, or herbal tea and allow yourself a few moments to sip and enjoy.
2. EVALUATE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
Let’s be honest: Most of us don’t always make our bed, and if you’re a mama, it’s probably not unusual to crawl into it still unmade and find toys or a family of stuffed animals waiting to greet you. There are nights where we’re too exhausted to even care about this reality, but there are others where it surely adds to the day’s tension and contributes to getting into bed in an agitated state.
Creating an environment you actually want to retreat to and is conducive to rest, can be as simple as making the bed each day, putting away the clutter, and treating yourself to some new pajamas. But if your budget allows, you may also want to consider the following:
Do you need a new mattress or would a topper extend its life and help you sleep better? Are your pillows both comfortable and supportive? Take stock of your bed and make sure it’s aiding and not inhibiting a good night’s sleep.
Give your room a makeover with some new bed-linen, cushions, and throws—and you’ll find yourself wanting to get into bed as soon as possible each night! Check out our bed-styling 101 article for more tips and ideas.
Scents like Lavender, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Chamomile, and Rose can aid in preparing your body for sleep. Consider using essential oils in a diffuser, spraying them on your pillow and pajamas in a diluted form, adding a few drops to your bathwater, or indulging yourself with scented massage oil to get the benefits of these age-old aromas. Consider trying out this easy DIY to help you create and customize your own relaxing room sprays. Or learn how to make your own DIY sleep sachet to pop under your pillow for a restorative night’s sleep.
Dim the lights, burn some candles, or purchase some bedside lamps to help your mind quiet down at the end of a long day.
While you’re paying attention to what is and isn’t in your room, you may also want to consider investing in a good old-fashioned alarm clock so you can leave your phone charging in another room. But if you must use your phone, turn it to airplane mode or ‘do not disturb’, so your sleep won’t be disrupted by notifications.
3. PUT AWAY THE SCREENS
Again, the experts would tell us to turn all screens off 60-90 minutes before turning in for the night, but sometimes this just isn’t possible (anyone else snatching time for work at the end of the day or enjoying being able to finally sit down and watch a show?).
If you often find yourself using screens at night, reduce the blue light on your screen by putting it on a nighttime setting, downloading a blue light filter app, or purchasing blue light glasses. Blue light interferes with the body’s production of melatonin which is responsible for making us feel sleepy. Without the cues that melatonin sends us, we can more easily ignore how tired we really are only to regret it the next day.
But if you must work until your brain won’t allow you to make sense of your screen anymore, consider developing some rituals to help you unwind and transition to rest once you do switch them off.
4. CREATE BEDTIME RITUALS
Our brains respond to habits. Your bedtime ritual could be five minutes or 50, but be consistent with it and your body will thank you for the much-needed rest.
Your ritual might include:
- A special bedtime beverage such as a relaxing herbal blend or warm-milk drink
- A warm bath or shower
- A skin-care routine
- A next-day list to clear your mind
5. ENTRUST THE CARES AND WORRIES OF THE DAY TO THE LORD
One of the biggest hindrances to our sleep (aside from little and big sleep thieves who inhabit our homes) are the worries of the day. It can be helpful to re-center our hearts on the faithfulness and loving care of our Heavenly Father by reading a psalm or contemplative prayer before turning out the lights. Some that are well-suited to bedtime include Psalms 3, 4, 23, 91, and 121.
How have you prioritized the importance of sleep in your nightly bedtime routine? Share your own tips for getting a good night’s rest with us in the comments!
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