It can be frustrating to try to get to sleep at the end of a busy or anxious day. Though you’re aware you need the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep to be at your best, your mind may be wide awake. If you’ve put your phone away an hour before bed and upgraded your mattress, you may be surprised to learn there’s still more you can do to get to sleep quickly.
A consistent nighttime routine can signal to your brain that it’s time to go to sleep, according to the Sleep Foundation. The key to this method is to do the same things in the same order at the same time each night. Here are a few routines to try that not only benefit your sleep but can also positively affect your overall health.
1. Skincare Regimen
A multi-step skincare regimen is a great routine choice. Taking care of your skin before bed lets your moisturizer and serums soak in all night long.
Make sure to remove any makeup thoroughly before using a cleanser. Then, once your skin is completely clean, your skincare products will work at their best efficiency. The scents of many of these products are soothing, and spending time in a steamy and warm environment can relax you for easier sleep.
While many people are aware of the benefits of exercise, stretching is an area of physical health that’s easy to overlook. Right before bed is a great time to stretch because the action of breathing and loosening tight muscles naturally helps you to relax.
It’s also easy to stick to a consistent routine by doing the same stretches in the same order. There are online stretching routines as short as five minutes long that you can perform on the floor of your bedroom, or even when you’re already in bed. Over the long term, building flexibility will keep you mobile later in life and reduce your risk of injury during daily tasks.
3. Preparing for Tomorrow
This step is best taken before a more relaxing routine, but it can reduce stress both at night and in the morning. While getting ready for bed, pick out your clothes, lunch and other essentials the night before and put them in easy-to-remember places. For the best effects, make a checklist and do the same steps in the same order every night.
Keeping a book on the nightstand is a habit nearly as old as nightstands, themselves. This is because reading a book can take your mind off of the stresses of daily life and help prepare your brain for sleep. Reading has other benefits as well, such as improving your vocabulary and communication skills as well as developing empathy.
You can also keep a journal before bed as part of your nightly routine. Journaling has many mental health benefits. Writing down your issues can help put them in perspective, and listing accomplishments can retrain your mind to focus on the positive.
Today, it’s possible to buy journals with prewritten prompts and sections that make filling out a page before bed easier than before. If your journal is a blank page, training yourself out of expecting perfection from your words carries over into other aspects of your life.
6. Breathing Exercises
This last routine can be practiced when you’re tucked into bed if you still have trouble falling asleep. If you’ve tried counting sheep with no success, the secret may be linking the count to your breathing.
Breathe in on a slow count of four, and then exhale for the same length of time. Gradually increase the count to five or six.
Quality sleep is an important part of staying healthy. Though it’s difficult to have good sleep hygiene, routines can make the process easier. Picking one or two of these nighttime routines and practicing them consistently may help you get to sleep faster.