We’ve all been there before: lying in bed, eyes open, mind racing, exhausted from the day, yet inexplicably unable to fall asleep. Some of us suffer from insomnia occasionally – for others, it can be a nightly battle.
While severe forms of insomnia require consultation with your doctor, you may find you can achieve better sleep by simply adjusting your bedtime routine. That’s because how we prepare for sleep can play a significant role in how quickly we’re able to drift off.
The first rule for developing a bedtime routine that helps you fall asleep faster? Make it a true routine. That means the same general order of activities each night, within the same general timeframe. Establishing consistency helps train your body to subconsciously power down for sleep. For example, you might pick out your clothes for the next day, drink a hot cup of lemon water, and then brush your teeth before bed each night. If you do these same things in the same order before getting under the covers, pretty soon your brain will associate the start of that routine with sleep. Inconsistent activities before bed – and at different times – confuse the body and make it hard to know when it should wind down.
A major challenge to swift sleep can be overstimulation. Highly engaging activities right before bed light up the mind, and it can take a while for the brain to shift gears from stimulation to passivity. Be sure that your bedtime routine doesn’t include activities that cause you to be highly engaged, like responding to work emails, talking on the phone with friends and family, or taking care of bills, laundry, or other household chores. Your time before bed should be calm, relaxing, and devoid of any potentially stressful triggers.
One easy way to cut out any stress-inducing or distracting stimuli is to just put your phone away. Plug it in, set your alarm, and turn it face down on your nightstand while you focus on your “analog” bedtime routine. But wait, you say – “I love listening to podcasts, or using my meditation app before bed”. Great point. Certain types of audio can be extremely soothing and effective at letting the mind unwind before bed. If you’re someone that loves a listen, just hit play but keep your phone out of your hands. What you’re really trying to avoid is staring (and scrolling) at a screen full of blue light, which research has shown to interfere with your internal body clock.
What about reading? Does it activate the mind, or help it wind down? It depends on the person, but often reading helps calm the mind, setting the body up for an easy transition to sleep. You may want to consider reading before bed in a different room, so that your body only associates your bedroom with sleep.
Let’s round out with a few more quick tips:
For more tips and insights into all things sleep-related, be sure to explore more articles on the Shovlin Mattress blog!