According to the CDC, one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep. If you’re in this category of quasi-insomniacs, don’t freak out! The good news is, you can do something about it.
For starters, optimizing your bedroom environment can help you catch some of those elusive ZZZs. But most importantly, creating a bedtime routine for better sleep can help you drift off into dreamland like a mother-effing champ.
Got five minutes to set up your ultimate bedtime routine for better sleep? Read on!
The Complete Bedroom Checklist For Better Sleep
An optimal bedroom environment can improve your quality of sleep.
Here’s what you should get:
- Invest in a quality mattress and bed frame.
- Make sure your bedding is comfortable and inviting. Hint: a weighted blanket will change your life! 🤩
- Keep a few indoor plants that are great air purifiers, such as English ivy or Mother-in-law’s tongue.
- Consider an air purifier and humidifier for dry nights.
- Install blackout curtains to block light overnight.
- Keep a soothing scent spray nearby.
- Always keep a sleep mask in your nightstand drawer.
- Invest in a sound machine for sleep (ideally one that’s “windy.”)
- No TVs in the bedroom. (An exception can be made for those with the willpower to keep the TV off for at least one hour before bed.)
- Avoid night lights. (To promote better sleep, the room should be pitch-black dark.)
- Consider specialized sleep headphones that double as sleep masks.
- (When all else fails) make sure to keep a pen and paper, an immersive book, or a sleep story on standby.
The Ultimate 10-Step Bedroom Routine For Better Sleep
Most bedtime routines for better sleep are pretty straightforward: shower, brush your teeth, put on pajamas, etc.
But here’s the catch: Without a consistent bedtime routine in place, your internal clock won’t get used to falling asleep at the same time each night. In turn, this can disrupt your quality of sleep and make you feel like Sir Grumps-a-lot when you wake up in the morning.
Although restlessness is an increasingly common issue, it’s one that can be easily remedied with an effective bedtime routine for better sleep.
Depending on which steps you choose to prioritize, the ultimate bedtime routine for better sleep should last between 30 minutes to an hour.
1. Spend some time outdoors during the day.
As tempting as it may be to hit the hay soon after you get home from work, taking a moment to step outside will help your body wind down. It’s especially important to spend some time in daylight (during the early part of the day) because this natural circadian signal tells your brain that it’s not time for bet yet and keeps your melatonin levels in check.
2. Take a relaxing bath or shower before bed.
Some of you need that awakening jolt of water in the morning. But for those of you who can swing it, try switching to nightly showers or baths instead.
According to Dr. Hutter from the Harvard Medical School, “the high temperatures in a warm tub or sauna cause your blood vessels to dilate.” In other words, taking warm baths or showers can lower your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and induce (better) sleep.
3. Drink something warm like herbal tea to promote relaxation.
Drinking bedtime beverages like decaffeinated tea is a great addition to any bedtime routine for better sleep. It can be especially helpful for those who suffer from insomnia. After all, some herbal teas contain compounds that promote relaxation and help you wind down before bed.
Instead of having a cocktail or soda before bed (which may have the opposite effect), drink a cup of tea as part of your bedtime routine for better sleep. This’ll help relax your muscles and calm your mind before drifting off to sleep.
4. Allow yourself a bedtime snack, even if you’re not hungry.
Surprisingly, bedtime snacks can be helpful in your ultimate bedtime routine for better sleep.
Snacks such as yogurt and cereal can lead to better rest due to the amino acid “tryptophan.” This compound triggers the release of serotonin and melatonin in your body, both of which can help you fall asleep faster.
Some bedtime snacks, like cherries, grapes, and warm milk, also have sleep-promoting benefits that can dramatically improve your bedtime experience. So while it may sound surprising, eating some light grub while wearing your jammies fits well into a bedtime routine for better sleep.
5. Do some air and temperature control.
No bedtime routine for better sleep would be complete without air and temperature control in your bedroom.
First, make sure that your bedroom is well-ventilated with no windows near the bed to avoid drafts.
Second, consider using a humidifier to add some extra moisture to your bedroom’s dry air during the winter months. The added humidity will help make breathing easier, leading to sounder sleep and better muscle recovery overnight.
Third, consider an air purifier, especially if you live in a region with long droughts and constant haze like Southern California. Air purifiers remove irritants and allergens from the air in your living space. If left unchecked, these chemicals in the air can send mixed signals to your brain, alerting it to stay vigilant and keeping you from falling asleep.
Last, the ideal temperature in your bedtime routine for better sleep should be somewhere between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit, although 70 to 72 degrees can be perfectly adequate for some people.
6. Avoid electronics.
Have you developed a bedtime routine that consists of watching TV, scrolling through social media, and playing on the computer before bed?
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it): This is a big no-no.
There’s only one point to make here: Electronic screens emit blue light that deregulates melatonin levels in your body, making it that much harder to fall asleep.
So make bedtime a digital-free zone. Stick to books and journaling instead.
7. Spray your pillow with a soothing scent.
Another bedtime routine for better sleep includes spraying your pillow with a relaxing scent that can lull you to dreamland in no time.
In a study titled “Lavendar Aromatherapy for Sleep Quality in Older Adults,” researchers found that lavender aromatherapy helped participants fall asleep faster and better compared to participants who weren’t exposed to this dreamy scent before bedtime.
My personal favorite scent is Calm’s “Sleep Mist”: “a natural elixir of lavender, frankincense, chamomile, and clary sage essential oils.” Mmm, yum.
8. Read or keep a journal for 20 minutes before bed.
Since bedtime routines for better sleep may involve bedtime snacks, beverages, teas, and relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises, why not include reading or journaling in your bedtime routine for better sleep?
Doing so can help you relax psychologically and emotionally. In turn, a relaxed mind is more primed to fall asleep faster and sleep sounder throughout the night.
9. Don’t get upset if you can’t fall asleep!
It’s important not to get upset if you can’t fall asleep as it will only add to your frustration and keep you up at night, which defeats the purpose.
Instead of lying in bed awash with despair, get up and leave the room. You don’t want your mind to associate stress and anxiety with your bed, just like dogs shouldn’t associate their crates with a place they’re sent to when they’re being punished.
Rather than giving yourself a hard time for not falling asleep, go to another room in your home and get comfy. Listen to a sleep story or soothing music. Better yet, read a book.
Once your body is tired and your mind gets clearer of brain fog, your eyes will get heavier and your heart rate will slow down. This is what you should be striving for each night!
10. Think pleasant thoughts before bed.
Yes, Covid’s still out there. Yes, the Delta variant is annoying AF. Yes, the threat of doom on a global scale due to climate change makes you clench your butt hole and reach for the bourbon behind Kitchen Cabinet Number One.
But there’s no point in bringing these thoughts to bed with you. You can deal with them some other time.
What you should bring to bed is a sense of gratitude for yet another chance to live (and slay) another day. Nighttime is all about unwinding, relaxing, and dreaming of a better future (literally while you’re sleeping!)
So, now that you’re calm, dear reader, are you ready to incorporate a bedtime routine for better sleep into your life?
Let me know which is your favorite part of the routine and if there’s anything you do (that perhaps no one else does) to lull you to sleep in a jiffy.
Sweet dreams! 😴