How To Build The Best Bedtime Routine
Sleep is a biological process that in an ideal world happens naturally and effortlessly. However, with the many demands of life, it is easy to disrupt this natural process.
Your brain and sleep
The good news is that your brain is very trainable regardless of your age. With the right training and routine, many sleep issues can be resolved. Consider the following tips to help reset your brain so it knows when to “turn off” and get ready for sleep.
Your brain is a creature of habit. It likes to know what to expect so it can prepare all the necessary biological processes. Your first step in getting a good night sleep is to create your routine. Your routine starts when you wake up in the morning and continues until you head lays on your pillow at night. Here is a sample routine:
Your Morning Routine
Keep your wake up time the same every day. This may not be your favourite if you like to sleep in on the weekends. However, it is also the most important step, especially if you are having issue with sleep. Once your biological clock is reset and stabilized, you may be able to deviate from your routine once in awhile such as sleeping in an extra hour on the weekends.
Exposure to light helps to tell your brain that it is time to get up. Opening the curtains so light can get in or going outside to expose your eyes to some natural lights are a couple simple steps to start your day the right way.
If you like to drink coffee or tea, consider having it just in the morning before lunch time. This can help prevent too much stimulation later in your day especially when it comes to bed time.
Use a sunlight lamp. This may be helpful especially in the winter months when it is harder to get natural daylight in the morning. You will need to experiment with how much exposure is ideal for you as too much of it could also be too stimulating. Generally 10-20 minutes is the ideal range for most people
Your Afternoon Routine
According to some health providers, this is the best time to use your brain for the most productive work.
Practicing mindfulness throughout your day will help your brain remain in a state of balance and harmony, no matter what goes on externally in the outside world. Research suggests that this ongoing practice may improve sleep, as well as your health, concentration, productivity and satisfaction. It helps your nervous system become more resilient over time.
This includes the practice of meditation even if for only a brief moment. If you already incorporate meditation in your routine, this is an easy addition. For others, meditation can be overwhelming especially the first few times. Below are some simple but effective examples you can easily incorporate into your day:
- Feel the sensation of the water running through your hands as you wash the dishes. Touch and feel the dishes in your hands as if it is the first time you have ever held a dish. Smell the air as you step outside, make no judgment, simply smell and notice
- When you feel overwhelmed, tune into your body by noticing your feet. Wiggle your toes and turn your focus into the bones of your legs and pelvis. This will help you get grounded and bring you back to the present
Exercise regularly. Physical exercise helps improve your body’s ability to regulate your many biological processes, including sleep. There are many ways to enjoy exercises. You do not need to commit to a gym membership. Many types of exercises can be easily done at home to fit your lifestyle
Your Evening Routine
Have a bedtime routine. This can be anything from reading, journaling, listening to music, going for a stroll and anything else that helps you wind down your day. It brings you a sense of closure for the day.
Last meal of the day
Finish your dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime. That is the amount of time it takes for your body to digest your meal. It would be difficult for your body to rest if it is still trying to digest.
Wind down exercises
Gentle stretches or low intensity yoga practice may help you prepare your body to relax.
Avoid use of electric devices 2 hours before bedtime. Some believe that the blue light may be potentially disrupting to your sleep. Also, television shows, answering emails and sending text messages may also be too stimulating before bedtime.
Make it dark
Use a black out curtain or eye mask to help block out any light. This is a great way to reset your brain. This can help promote melatonin production and inform your body that it is time to relax, rest and restore.
Cooler is better
Turn your room temperature down. Research suggests that temperatures between 16-19oC is the most optimal for sleep. If that is too cold for you, start slowly and slow lower the temperature 1 degree at a time to find your most comfortable personal temperature.
Have a consistent bedtime. Similar to having a consistent wake time, this is again a key part in resetting your circadian rhythm
How You Can Get Help
Above are habits and routines you can try. However, sometimes you may need more help in customizing your routine. Here are examples of areas your physiotherapist can help you:
- Pain: If you are dealing with pain during the day or at night, it may be difficult to set your routine. Your physiotherapists and chiropractors are experts in resolving your pain by finding the root cause of you pain
- Exercise If you are not sure what type of exercises are suitable for you, your physiotherapy assistants are experts in this area
- Mindfulnes: Having trouble shutting off your brain at night? Work with one of your physiotherapists. They can help you with breath work and mindfulness practice. Combined with some gentle movements to retrain your brain can help you learn how to switch off at the end of your day
- Position: Having trouble finding a comfortable position to sleep? Your physiotherapists are experts in posture. It may be that you need to change your position temporarily while doing your rehab with your physios or exercise sessions with your physio assistants
Q: What is a good sleep routine?
A: A good sleep routine is best when done consistently and regularly. The more it becomes a habit, the easier it gets to maintain. The end result is better and sleep and feeling better during your day
Q: What is the best sleep pattern?
A: The best sleep pattern can vary for each person so find one that works for you. The best sleep pattern is one that you can do repeatedly every day and helps you get the rest you need
Q: What is the importance of sleep routine?
A: Having a good sleep routine makes it easier for you to get a good night of rest. With a full, restful sleep, your day becomes easier to manage and you are better able to deal with whatever comes your way