According to the American Sleep Association, between 50-70 million US adults have a sleep disorder. More specifically, 37% of 20-39 year-olds report being sleep deprived. Sleep is not only important for your mental focus and productivity, it also plays a vital role in your overall well being. Poor and inadequate sleep has strong links to health concerns such as weight gain, depression, lowered immunity, inflammation, and degraded emotional intelligence.
Getting your night time routine dialed in and finding practices that best fit your lifestyle can be tough. To help you out, we’re giving you a glimpse into our team’s favorite night time routines. We hope that by the time you finish reading this article you feel inspired and well-equipped to get your best night of sleep yet!
Sweet sweet sleep! I think we all inherently know how good life can get with a solid night’s rest and at the same time, we all know how things start to spiral out of control without it. That being said, there doesn’t seem to be a “one-size” fits all approach to sleep. Even when dialing in my own sleep habits, I find it’s an ongoing balancing act that requires constant adjustments depending on the rhythms and demands of the day. It’s finicky for sure, but there are a few things I’ve found over the years that if I can stay on top of will almost guarantee that I’ll knock out like a light. Give these tips a try and I’ll bet my bottom dollar your nights will be more restful.
Consistency: This means going to bed and waking up at nearly the same time every day (+/-30min). If I find myself needing more sleep, an effective habit to build is going to bed earlier rather than sleeping in. Sleeping in will make the following morning much harder to wake up at a normal time.
Exhaustion: Often times my best nights are made by busy days. Mental and/or physical exhaustion makes sleep easy for me. I also find the inverse to be true. If I’m mentally/physically stagnant for most of the day, it becomes harder to fall and stay asleep.
1 calming hour: This comes as a slight caveat to the prior suggestion. Being busy throughout the day is great for sleep but busyness right before bed can be detrimental to my rest. I’ve found it takes me about an hour in the absence of stimulating materials, activities or thoughts to wind my mind and body down for bed. For me, this means no videos, limited cellphone/computer use, exercise, games, or anything else that might ramp me up physically or mentally.
Dinner: I don’t always notice when food helps me sleep, but I always notice when it gets in the way. Avoiding late and heavy dinners keeps me from the discomfort of tossing and turning while getting to bed.
Light hygiene: This could have been an extension of the 1 calming hour, but it’s so important to my routine that I wanted to emphasize on its own. Limiting exposure to bright lights, and especially blue lights, really helps me to wind down in the last hour before bed. This could look like using a dimmer switch in your bedroom or just turning off a few lights while going through your nightly routine. This also means limiting exposure to screens or using functional like Night Shift on Apple products to “warm” the spectrum of light that your device is exposing you to before bed.
Oh, how I love sleep! But, I never get enough of it. So keeping a nightly routine is very important to me. I’m a night owl by nature so it takes a lot of self-discipline to stick to a nightly routine. If I don’t stick to my routine my bedtime ends up being around 11:30 pm and with a 5:30 am wake-up time on the weekdays, that’s not very much sleep! When I can stick to my schedule, I like to go to bed around 9:30 pm, meaning I start my bedtime routine around 9 pm by adopting no screen time and enjoying a nice warm Sleep Time tea. As I enjoy my tea, I like to pick out my clothes for the next day. After I decide what to wear, I take a hot shower, brush my teeth, clean my face and kiss my puppy, Marlowe, good night. And now I’m ready for bed -- Haha if only it were that easy! The hard part for me is actually falling asleep, and still to this day, I am working on finding what is the best way for me to fall asleep. If I don’t fall asleep right away, I try focusing on a noise (like my fan), breathing, and fighting the urge to grab my phone.
I love getting an amazing night's sleep. I know it sounds obvious, but I really notice the next day when the quality of my sleep was at its best. So to maximize my quality sleep, I take a few minutes every evening before bed to relax and unwind. I brush my teeth, wash my face and stretch right before getting into bed. Going to bed feeling clean is something I’ve always practiced and I think it plays a huge part in the quality of my sleep. Another part of my nightly routine is avoiding any electronic use 30 minutes before bed (other than setting my alarm clock). I try to make a point not to use social media or answer emails in bed as well. This way, my bedroom only feels like a place for sleeping and not like my office.
In my opinion, getting a truly restful night of sleep is one of the most underrated acts of self-care. I’m a pretty light sleeper and different things can easily throw off the quality of my sleep, so for me, staying on top of my sleep hygiene is extremely important. I try to be in bed before 9:30 pm each night, but really, my bedtime routine begins hours prior. I avoid drinking any caffeine after noon as caffeine has a half-life of five hours, and I also try to not eat anything at least 90 minutes before I plan to go to bed. Also, as soon as the sun goes down, I reduce all artificial lighting in our house, relying on light dimmers and candles. I do this to allow my body to align more closely with the natural setting of the sun and to avoid exposure to blue light, which inhibits the production of melatonin in your brain making it more difficult to fall and stay asleep. I also avoid blue light by turning off all electronics one hour before bedtime - a.k.a. no cell phone or TV usage. Instead, I opt for reading. Then, each night I rely on a few different night time routines depending on my mood. My favorite go-to's include: drinking a warm, sleepytime tea like vanilla or chamomile, diffusing a relaxing essential oil blend in my bedroom, spritzing my pillows with lavender essential oil and playing ambient nature sounds or binaural beats as I fall asleep.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to improve your nighttime routine and to get a better night’s sleep, you can read about 15 different ways to do so on my site.
Photos by: Yuliya Kosolapova, Jay Wennington, Miti, Rodion Kutsaev, Christin Hume