Sleep Well With These Habits Soothing
If you need more sleep or better sleep but aren’t sure how to get it, let’s talk about some pre-sleep habits that might help. Busy schedules and busy minds rob us of precious sleep time, whether we realize it or not. Pre-sleep habits can help us get better sleep at night (and a productive morning the next day as a great bonus).
“Variability is the enemy of sleep,” says Ravi S. Aysola, M.D., of UCLA. A sleep hygiene routine can help you teach your body and brain when it’s time to sleep.
Biological changes influence sleep, says Cathy Anne Goldstein, M.D., clinical associate professor of sleep medicine at UM. For example, your melatonin level rises as the sun sets, and your core body temperature drops as you prepare for sleep. But sleep is influenced by the habits that make us sleepy or awake. People are conditioned, Dr. Goldstein says. “A bedtime routine will help us condition.”
Dr. Aysola says one of the most common issues is turning off attention before bed. “Our brains are like a light switch; you need time to decompress to sleep.” Find activities or rituals that help you relax and incorporate them into your evening routine. Here are some good pre-sleep habits to help you fall asleep faster and get a good night’s rest.
1. If you haven’t already, try meditation.
Okay, so you’ve probably heard this one before. Meditation, however, is by far the most popular method for improving sleep quality (Sleep Well) and speeding up sleep onset. Bedtime listening for Abbey T., on the Headspace app. Dr. Goldstein recommends daily meditation as part of your wind-down routine to help relax and calm your mind. It can also help you fall back asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night. Using a guided meditation app is great, but practicing on your own is also a good idea if you need it at 3 a.m.
Meditation is one of those things where you know it’s good for you but aren’t sure how to start and maintain it.
2. Write down to-dos and other worries that keep you awake.
When you lie down to sleep, do you suddenly remember every single unfinished task on your to-do list? Dr. Goldstein says insomniacs often find their minds racing, thinking about everything from work problems to future hopes and dreams. Negative and positive thoughts can keep us awake and prevent us from sleeping.
Dr. Goldstein suggests keeping a journal by your bedside to jot down these thoughts as they arise. Margo K., 31, says she does this every day, whether it’s a “to-do” or a reflection on the day. Getting it out of her head helps a lot.
3. Read a bedtime story (for adults).
“I love sleep story podcasts!” says Michelle P. Apps like Headspace, Calm, Slumber, and Sleepiest all have bedtime stories you can listen to. So Michelle listens to her music while she sleeps in her Musicozy ($20, Amazon). “I get into bed and listen to a sleep story podcast. They calm your mind by anchoring you to a specific place or time, like a cozy lake house or a dreamy Norway trip. “Nothing Much Happens: Bedtime Stories for Grownups”
4. Eat dinner early if you suffer from heartburn.
Acid reflux can also disrupt sleep, says Dr. Aysola. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn and chest pain. Not ideal for a good night’s sleep!
“End your last meal a couple hours before bedtime so you have less of a chance of reflux interfering with your sleep,” advises Dr. Aysola. Eating can cause indigestion and upset stomach even if you don’t have acid reflux. You don’t want to deal with that while trying to sleep, so eat a full meal two to three hours before bedtime.
5. Avoid electronics 2 hours before bed.
According to Dr. Goldstein, “light exposure four hours before natural sleep onset can delay your [internal] clock and make it difficult to fall asleep and wake up.” It’s difficult to stop four hours before bed, she admits, so aim for two. Dr. Goldstein advises users to put down their devices two hours before bedtime. Even if you do less, you may find it useful. She also avoids screens 30 minutes before bedtime.
Experts say that because the TV isn’t so close, it’s less disruptive to sleep. Not that you should watch TV in bed. “You want to associate bed with sleep, not TV watching,” says Dr. Goldstein. Despite this, sleeping with the TV on has been linked to sleep issues, which you can learn more about here.
6. Dim the lights as night falls.
While it may not be feasible to avoid your tablet or computer four hours before bed, dimming overhead lighting can help prepare your body for sleep. “If it’s dark or dim outside, consider dimming the lights inside,” advises Dr. Goldstein. Start dimming your house lights after dinner. Table lamps can also reduce overhead lighting. This will help reduce the amount of light you are exposed to at night, allowing your body to recognize it is getting dark and time for bed.
7. Take a warm bath
“I take a hot shower or bath before bed,” Annie D., said. “It’s my cue that the day is over and it’s time to get cozy and go to bed.”
Dr. Goldstein says a warm bath or shower not only relaxes but also prepares you for sleep. As we get closer to bedtime, our body temperature naturally drops. It can be a problem when the room is too hot and our bodies want to cool down. Dr. Goldstein recommends a warm bath or shower to help the body cool down. “A warm bath an hour or two before bed helps dissipate heat. The temperature gradient causes heat loss through the core, resulting in core cooling. ” If you jump from a hot tub to bed without letting your body dissipate the heat, your core temperature will be too high and you will be unable to sleep.
8. Make white noise.
Jaime B., swears by her Rohm white noise machine. “I bought it for one of my babies but kept it for myself because it helps me sleep by blocking out the noise in my head. I’m fixated. Not having it on leaves her staring at the ceiling or tossing and turning. “Then I realize I haven’t turned on my white noise machine, and that’s my cue to relax and zone out,” Jaime says. If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a guide.
Dr. Goldstein says a fan can help provide soothing white noise while also keeping the room cool.
9. Read a real book.
“Reading a book helps me relax,” Sarah S., says. She tries to read for 10 minutes before bedtime. “These few minutes quiet the thoughts about my to-do lists and make falling asleep that much faster,” Sarah says. She reads before going to work. This reading routine allows her to own her day. “I’m a more patient, flexible, and confident leader when I read,” Sarah says. It allows me to serve others better.
10. Set your alarm every night at the same time.
Dr. Goldstein says that even if you don’t set your alarm for the next day right before bed, you should do so if you want to fall asleep faster. “Sleep begins in the morning,” says Dr. Goldstein. “Aligning the body clock to a 24-hour day requires waking up at the same time every day. Having a consistent wake time helps you sleep better. Keep it up. “
If you can resist the weekend temptation to sleep in and keep your wake time consistent, you’ll be thanking yourself when you fall asleep easily at night.
11. Maintain a consistent wind-down routine.
To Sleep Well you need to start small then make real changes to your sleep routine, including your pre-sleep habits. Begin by implementing just a few of the above suggestions before modifying your routine.
There is no right or wrong way to prepare for sleep. For some, like Margo K., it means a hot chamomile tea and a bedtime sleep meditation. Others, like Michèlle F., combine one or more of the following: meditating, bathing, using aromatherapy body oil, avoiding electronics and food two hours before bedtime, and listening to relaxing music. Just be careful not to overcomplicate your pre-bedtime ritual to the point where it becomes a burden rather than a relaxing experience.