Whether you’re a busy parent, an aspiring professional, someone that struggles with insomnia, stress, anxiety, or maybe a combination of the three, sleep is an integral part of your mental and physical well-being.
Did you know that creating a nighttime routine can actually be more conducive to going to sleep and staying asleep each night?
Similar to creating a bedtime routine for your children, you can implement a bedtime schedule that will train your body to get better sleep and promote better mental health. Here are some beneficial nighttime routines to improve your mental health.
1. Take Note of What Your Eat and Drink Before Bed
It’s well-known that what we put into our bodies has a direct effect on how we feel throughout the day. The same can be said regarding what we eat and drink before bed and how it affects how we sleep.
Make sure that you avoid any type of caffeinated beverages and alcohol before bed. This may seem counterproductive—isn’t alcohol supposed to relax you?
Believe it or not, while alcohol is considered a depressant, alcohol consumed in large quantities can affect your melatonin levels and will prevent you from staying asleep at night.
You also want to make sure that you aren’t eating anything too heavy or sugary before bed. Try to eat your dinner at least three hours before you go to sleep and if you get hungry for a bedtime snack, try healthy foods that are low in carbs, such as carrot sticks and hummus, avocado, greek yoghurt, or apples.
2. Stick With the Schedule You Create (Even on Weekends)
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, having a consistent sleep schedule can set the body’s internal clock and produce quality, sound sleep.
Once you create a sleep schedule for yourself, make sure you stick to it as often as possible, even on the weekends. It may be tempting to go out during the weekends, stay up all night, and then sleep in the next day, but actions like that alter your circadian rhythm and end up making it harder for you to go to sleep at your regular time the next night.
There will always be exceptions to the norm, such as special events or going on vacations outside of your regular time zone, but as a rule of thumb, make sure your nighttime routine stays consistent every single night and try to avoid any distractions that may alter your routine. This includes watching television close to bedtime and even having your phone close to you.
Most phones now offer a nighttime mode that will remind you when it gets close to bedtime and will automatically put itself in “Do Not Disturb” mode to help make it easier to avoid distractions.
3. Plan Your Morning Ahead of Time
If you find yourself struggling to get to sleep each night and are constantly tossing and turning, stressing about the day ahead, consider taking a moment to plan your morning. Lay out what you will wear the next day, meal prep your lunch, and take a little bit of time to work through your morning schedule.
This will help you in two ways: the first is that you will find yourself more at ease, knowing you have taken active steps to get yourself ready for the next day. The second is if you find yourself thin on time in the mornings, having all your big items ready to go will shave off a lot of time you otherwise would be stressing about in the morning.
Additionally, try making your bed every morning. Adding this to your morning routine can actually have a positive effect on your mental health when you go to sleep each night. Having a nice crisp and neatly made bed is visually welcoming and helps your mind and body relax that much more, as opposed to diving into a mess of sheets.
4. Consider Your Surroundings
You want to make sure that your bedroom is conducive to getting the sleep you need and improving your mental health. While this isn’t something you will add into your routine or practice every night, you want to make sure this is implemented to make sure you are primed for sleep. According to House Method, having a bedroom that’s conducive to a restful night’s sleep can help improve mental health.
Think about how your room looks right now. Do you get a good night’s rest each night or could there be improvements? Make sure when it’s time for bed, your room is dark, cool, and quiet.
Remove all distractions from your room and ensure that rattling appliances or a loud ceiling fan are addressed and quieted. Turn your TV and phone off and shut off all lights before falling asleep.
The temperature of your home also can directly affect the quality of sleep you get. Typically, the best temperature for sleep is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, but be sure to adjust according to your comfort level. While you may want to save money on your electric bill, bedtime is not the time to keep the AC at 80 degrees for the sake of saving money.
5. Implement Self-Care Into Your Routine
With a busy schedule, it may be hard to try and squeeze in self-care, but it’s essential to your mental health. As you get ready for bed and are trying to establish a nighttime routine, now is the perfect time to add self-care.
A great way to end the day is by using a gratuity journal to notate three things you are grateful for each day. Journaling helps calm the mind and can help keep life in perspective.
You can also use journaling to write notes about any last-minute thoughts that pop into your mind before you go to sleep, such as making sure you remember a dentist appointment or jotting down a quick note to grab milk when you go to the grocery store.
Other ways you can practice self-care is by taking this time to practice a guided meditation or a relaxing bedtime yoga session. You may even want to do something simpler, such as apply a relaxing face mask before you go to sleep.