how to sleep better

Effective bedtime rituals to help you relax and sleep better

A bedtime routine can help clear your mind and body of daily stressors and give you the focus and energy to function at peak levels
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Bedtime routines are as important as your sleep itself. They can help clear your mind and body of daily stressors and give you the focus and energy to function at peak levels. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, can take a toll on your productivity, mental health and even your physical wellbeing.

At the end of each day, setting some time aside for a bedtime routine can do wonders for your sleep quality and health. Your bedtime routine can be anything from reading and meditating to cleaning your space and taking a shower. Aside from helping you wind down, these routines when practised over time send triggers to your brain to shut down and get some rest. These simple habits can help you relax, sleep better and set you up for a productive day ahead.

Here are some effective bedtime routines that can help you get the most out of your sleep every night.

Maintain a gratitude journal

According to research, journaling before going to bed can help you relax and get a restful sleep. Picking up a gratitude journal may seem a difficult habit, especially at the end of the day, but it will definitely be worth your effort. Keep your journal by your nightstand so that you can jot down three or four things you’re grateful for each day. Journaling regularly about the positive things in your life can help you stay on track and prepare you for rough patches when they pop up. Doing so can also lower your stress levels and help you feel calmer before going to bed.

Dim the lights and keep electronic devices at bay

When you use electronic devices at night, you expose yourself to blue light emitted from these sources. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that exposure to electrical light between dusk and bedtime strongly suppresses melatonin levels and may impact your natural sleep-wake cycle also known as the circadian rhythm. By constantly scrolling through your phone, your brain can get tricked into thinking it needs to stay awake. This makes it even more difficult to fall asleep and can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.

Meditate

A regular meditation practice before bed can help you de-stress and improve the quality of your sleep. You can practice mindfulness meditation by simply closing your eyes and allowing yourself to focus on your thoughts and feelings. You can also try other forms of meditation like deep breathing and visualisation. As a relaxation technique, meditation can help calm the mind and body while bringing inner peace. When done before bedtime, meditation can even help reduce insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Keep your bedroom decluttered

Your bedroom is a space where you begin and end your day. A cluttered sleeping environment increases your cortisol levels, a hormone produced in response to stress. This can make it difficult to fall asleep and disrupt the sleep cycle. On the other hand, a tidy bedroom can make you feel less stressed and distracted, allowing you to relax and unwind before going to bed. According to pulmonologist Dr. Ilene M Rosen, MD, “All of the distractors in your room and certainly in your bed should be cleared out. Our environment not only affects how fast we fall asleep but how soundly we sleep.” If you make decluttering your space a daily habit, you will be saying yes to a good night’s sleep.

Take a relaxing shower

Taking a hot shower before bed can help you relax and fall asleep more quickly, especially if the water temperature and timing of the bath are right. A research team at the University of Texas conducted a systematic data analysis evaluating a study that linked bathing, water temperature and sleep quality. The results show that bathing in lukewarm water 90 minutes before going to bed can help improve sleep quality. A warm shower acts as a natural decongestant, helping you breathe easier at night. Also, the warm water lowers your body’s temperature, which signals the body that it’s time for bed.

Take a few minutes to stretch

Stretching before going to bed is a simple but excellent way to improve your sleep duration and quality. You can practice gentle stretching exercises such as yoga, tai chi or any low-level physical activity. Doing so can reduce body pain and relax your muscles to help you sleep better. According to Jessica Matthews, author of Stretching to Stay Young, “Static stretching is an ideal way to de-stress and unwind after a long day.”

Read a book

Reading before going to bed is a good habit to build. Since reading is known to be a stress-relieving activity, it can help you fall asleep faster. By immersing yourself in a book, you can take your mind off the worries and distractions of the day. This will help you relax and get proper sleep. In addition, reading before bed can relieve mild depression and anxiety.

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