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    Building a Better Bedtime Routine

      |  Jan 05, 2024

    In our fast-paced world, a good night's sleep can feel like a luxury. However, establishing a bedtime routine can significantly improve your sleep quality and help you fall asleep faster. Let’s explore some real-life examples of bedtime routines from different individuals and a comprehensive list of pre-bedtime activities, along with tips on how to integrate them effectively.

    Bedtime Routine Spotlights: 

    1. Sarah's Relaxation Routine:

    8:30 PM - Dim the lights

    9:00 PM - Read a light book

    9:30 PM - Take a lavender-infused warm bath 

    10:15 PM - Practice 15 minutes of stretching or yoga

    10:30 PM - Participate in sleep-inducing meditation

    2. Mark's Tech-Free Wind-Down:

    9:00 PM - Shut down electronic devices (phone, tablet, etc.)

    9:30 PM - Drink caffeine-free herbal tea

    10:00 PM - Write positive reflections from the day

    10:15 PM - Practice 10 minutes of deep breathing

    10:30 PM - Prepare a cool and dark bedroom ambiance

    3. Emma's Gratitude Journaling Routine:

    9:30 PM - Complete Gratitude journaling

    10:00 PM - Practice progressive muscle relaxation

    10:15 PM - Listen to a calming playlist

    10:45 PM - Use a sleep mask for darkness 

    Activities to Incorporate into your Evening Routine:

    Reading: Select a calming book or something light to distract your mind.

    Light reading before bedtime is beneficial due to its positive impact on your circadian rhythm and melatonin production. Unlike electronic devices which emit blue light, a physical book offers a non-disruptive visual stimulus that serves as a mindful, calming activity that can divert your attention away from the stressors and concerns you experience during the day.

    Meditation: Engage in mindfulness or guided meditation for mental relaxation.

    Meditation before bedtime induces a relaxation response by reducing sympathetic nervous system activity and enhancing parasympathetic nervous system function. Meditation can lower heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormone levels. Additionally, meditation is associated with increased melatonin production, optimizing your body for a restful sleep.

    Warm Bath: Enhance relaxation with a warm bath using calming essential oils.

    Taking a warm bath before bed promotes better sleep due to the drop in body temperature after exiting the bath. This cooling effect signals the body that it's time to sleep. This process supports your natural circadian rhythm, facilitating your body's transition to a restful state. Warm baths enhance blood flow, relax muscles and promote a sense of “calm.” This combination of temperature regulation and muscle relaxation contributes to improved sleep quality.

    Pro-Tip: Add Lavender or Chamomile oil to your bath as they are known to alleviate feelings of stress and promote relaxation.

    Yoga or Stretching: Release tension through gentle stretches or yoga poses.

    Yoga and stretching before bed lower stress hormones like cortisol, boost melatonin production for better regulated sleep-wake cycles, and release muscle tension. Implementing a stretching and/or yoga routine is a simple yet effective bedtime routine for better rest.

    Journaling: Write down thoughts, concerns, or gratitude in a dedicated journal.

    Writing in a journal before bed aids with sleep due to its ability to alleviate stress, organize thoughts, and promote a calm mental state. Scientifically, expressive writing has been linked to reduced anxiety and improved sleep quality. By putting your thoughts on paper, you may feel a sense of control over your emotions and concerns, reducing the feelings of stress that can interfere with sleep. Ideally this should be done in another room before getting into bed.

    Deep Breathing: Practice deep-breathing exercises to calm your nervous system.

    Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, leading to a reduction in heart rate and the release of calming neurotransmitters like GABA. This physiological response induces a state of relaxation, lowers stress hormones, and promotes an optimal mental environment for sleep.

    Herbal Tea: Opt for caffeine-free choices like chamomile or valerian root tea.

    Herbal tea before bed is beneficial for sleep due to the calming properties of certain herbs. Some herbs used in bedtime teas, such as chamomile and valerian root, contain compounds that interact with receptors in the brain, promoting relaxation and reducing anxiety.

    Tech-Free Time: Power down electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.

    Turning off electronic devices like cell phones and tablets 30 minutes before bed reduces your exposure to blue light emitted by screens. Exposure to blue light suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. By shutting off devices, especially those with screens, you reduce exposure to this disruptive light, allowing your melatonin levels to rise naturally. This allows the body to better prepare for sleep and can contribute to a more restful night.

    White Noise or Calming Sounds: Use white noise or calming sounds to drown out external disturbances.

    Calming sounds, such as white noise, are believed to contribute to better sleep by masking disruptive sounds and establishing a consistent and soothing background noise. White noise is thought to minimize the contrast between background sounds and sudden loud noises, potentially helping to prevent sleep disruptions. This steady sound may also serve as an auditory cue, promoting a relaxed state that could enhance the overall sleep experience.

    Progressive Muscle Relaxation: Tense and release muscles to alleviate physical tension.

    Practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) before bedtime aids sleep through tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups, creating a relaxation response in both the body and mind. This technique reduces sympathetic nervous system activity (“fight or flight” response) and increases parasympathetic nervous system activity, promoting relaxation and preparing your body and mind for sleep.

    It’s important to engage in activities promoting relaxation and mindfulness for a peaceful transition to sleep. Remember, finding the perfect routine may take some trial and error. Explore various activities and timings until you discover what works best for you, and enjoy the benefits of a restful night's sleep. Sweet dreams!