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When you have a newborn, one of the best pieces of advice you will hear is to set a bedtime routine and to set it early. Whatever you choose, stick to it, be consistent and you will have better luck getting your baby to sleep every night. By setting a routine early, children know it is time to go to sleep and their bodies will become conditioned to it.
So why as adults have we gotten out of the habit of a nighttime routine? How many of us try to go to bed by a certain time, only to be distracted? These distractions often lead to difficulty falling asleep, a restless sleep and exhaustion felt in the morning and throughout the next day. This, of course, influences our mood and mental health.
Why not fall back into the nighttime routine that we set for our children, and see some of the benefits? Here’s how:
The foods we eat have a significant impact our sleep—not only what we eat but the timing of when we eat can also affect our nighttime routine.
The general guidelines are to avoid caffeine after certain times in the afternoon as it will impact your ability to fall asleep. Avoid sugar too, as it causes uneven blood sugar levels, which results in restless sleep. Also avoid eating two to three hours before you go to bed to help your body fall asleep faster and more comfortably.
Some healthy midnight snacks include hot water with (or without) magnesium, avocado, cottage cheese, carrot sticks, hummus, apples, peanut butter, greek yogurt, blueberries, or whole grain toast and ham.
Set a consistent bedtime, and plan for it every night, even on the weekends. Staying consistent with bedtime and wake-up calls is crucial for training your internal clock, or circadian rhythm.
The recommended amount of sleep adults need is seven to nine hours per night. Really commit to this schedule until it becomes routine, and don’t let outside distractions – this means phones and other electronic devices – delay your routine. Most phones will allow you to set a reminder 15 minutes before you need to go to bed, transferring to nighttime mode automatically.
If you find that you are tossing and turning before you go to bed as your mind races, take a minute to plan out your morning.
Choose your outfit the night before and lay it out wherever you get ready for work. Set the coffee maker to automatically start. Pack your lunch the evening before to grab quickly as you head out the door.
Knowing you have a plan to tackle the morning will put those evening worries to bed. You might even write a to-do list for the next day if you know you have a lot to get done, which brings us to our next point.
Write down three things you are grateful for every night. Physically putting gratitude in writing can improve your happiness and well-being. It can also clear your mind, allowing you to fall asleep quicker.
For this reason, it’s helpful to have a journal beside your bed. That way, you can conveniently write down any of those last-minute things that pop into your mind before you fall asleep. Remembered you need to buy milk and make your semi-annual dentist appointment and it’s keeping you awake? Jot it down in a journal to put it to rest.
Do you make your bed every morning? Maybe you should start. Not only will it help jumpstart your morning, but having a crisp, clean bed that is ready for you at night makes bedtime more appealing.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and relaxing. Remove all distractions that may keep you up at night, including rattling appliances, like a squeaky ceiling fan.
Also, set the room at a cool but comfortable temperature. If you find your home’s heating and cooling unit isn’t maintaining a comfortable sleeping temperature, check into your home warranty HVAC coverage. Your bedroom’s temperature is directly related to your sleep quality, so it’s worth paying attention to.
You might also consider investing in a bigger mattress. Sharing a full- or queen-size bed can ding the quality of your Z’s, especially if your partner is an active sleeper who talks, tosses, and turns throughout the night. You might also be sharing your bed with spoiled pets or kids with nightmares, which shrinks your sleeping space even more.
By getting into a nighttime routine, you can help reset your body and sleep cycle and train your body to recognize these sleep triggers and fall asleep faster. The result? Better sleep and improved mental health, allowing you to start your day refreshed and ready to go.