How often do you take some quiet time out to unwind before going to bed? Do you end up doing chores, working, or watching television right up until bedtime?
Taking 30-60 minutes to mark an end to a hectic day and doing things which will help calm your mind is a cornerstone of good sleep hygiene. At night, the average person needs five efficient cycles of sleep, with each cycle lasting 90 minutes. By optimizing your bedtime routine, you will prepare your body for rest, fall asleep faster, and increase the quality of those cycles.
Why is a bedtime routine beneficial?
- If your mind is very active when you go to bed, a routine can help calm it down before you get into bed.
- By repeating a regular pattern, you condition your body and mind to realize that it is time to go to sleep.
- Many activities people do in the evening can be overstimulating. A bedtime routine helps you avoid doing those things and relax instead.
The key is that this routine should provide a quiet, relaxing and enjoyable time. Because you are a unique individual, your routine may differ from that of a friend or spouse.
Here are some suggestions you may find beneficial as part of your evening routine:
1) Switch off the electronic devices – this includes cell phones, computers, and television
2) Relaxation exercises: meditation, breathing, and mindfulness
3) Read a book, not a device
4) Listen to calming music
5) Have a relaxing warm drink – like herbal tea
6) Spiritual practice: prayer, yoga, meditation
7) Spend time with family, friends, or your partner
8) Take a warm bath. Consider adding some calming essential oils like Lavender
9) Essential: don’t lie awake for hours – get up and repeat
Most people take between 20 and 30 minutes to fall asleep. If you are still awake after half an hour, it could be that your body is not quite ready to fall asleep.
It may be beneficial to get up, go into another room with dim lighting, and repeat some of your routine. After 15 minutes you can then go back to bed and try to fall asleep again.
Carmen Keith, MD, IFMCP