Cleaning up your sleep routine can support falling asleep more quickly, staying asleep longer, and reaching deeper, more healing, states of sleep. Sleep hygiene includes adding at least 30 minutes of exercise or gentle walking daily, reducing stimulants, dimming lights, turning off streaming devices, enjoying a relaxing activity like meditation, stretching, or a bath. Maintaining a bedtime before 11 PM and wake up time is ideal.
Research has shown how important it is to get adequate sleep, at least 7 hours, however, many people feel best with 8-9 hours of sleep per night. These changes work quickly for some, but for most, it takes patience and consistent effort to create healthy sleep patterns.
Here are a few ways to prepare your body for rest:
- Spend some time making a sleep hygiene plan. If you always wake up at 6:30am and would like 8 hours of sleep, count backward to find that the goal would be to fall asleep by 10:30pm. Try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, waking at the same time every day. Ideally, try to fall asleep before 11 pm. Start your nightly routine around 2 hours prior to when you’d like to be asleep.
- Avoid eating a meal and spicy/greasy/sugary food, at least 3 hours before bedtime. Avoid drinking alcohol in the evening. Avoid caffeine, 6-8 hours before bedtime, and if sensitive to caffeine, avoid for 10 hours before bedtime or eliminate completely.
- Reduce stimulating activities. Turn off the television/streaming devices, avoid work, challenging conversations, and activities 1 hour + before bedtime. Enjoy silence if your day was full of noise or turn on relaxing music, a meditation or a non-stimulating audiobook.
- There is evidence that shows that humans are able to reach deeper sleep when the temperature is lower, and 65 degrees Fahrenheit is considered ideal. Try keeping the thermostat set between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Dim and turn off unnecessary lights in your home, close curtains and blinds to reduce/eliminate outside light starting 2 hours prior to bedtime. Consider blackout curtains in the bedroom or a sleep mask. Try to cover any source of blue light in the bedroom – electrical tape is very effective for this. Make your bedroom as dark and as quiet as possible 15-30 minutes prior to bedtime. Always place cell phones face down, away from your face or on night mode, or with a blue light filter. White noise and or earplugs can be very helpful to mask external noise.
- Maintain a clean and tidy bedroom with a comfortable mattress and bedding, lighting that is dimmable, and proper air circulation. Try to keep your bedroom only for sleeping and intimacy.
- Daily exercise has been shown to improve sleep. 30 minutes of outside exercise per day, even a gentle walk, is ideal. Avoid intense exercise 2 hours prior to bedtime, especially if it feels stimulating for you.
- Enjoy at least 20 minutes of a relaxing activity 1-2 hours prior to bedtime, such as: a cup of calming herbal tea or magnesium supplement, meditation, gentle stretching or a bath with Epsom salts.