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Sleep Routine Tips for a Restful Night
In our fast-paced, modern world, quality sleep often takes a backseat to our hectic schedules and constant connectivity. However, the importance of a good night's sleep cannot be overstated. Adequate and restful sleep is crucial for overall well-being, mental health, recovery, and optimal daily functioning. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, waking up feeling groggy, or feeling on-going soreness after workouts it might be time to reassess your sleep routine. Here are some valuable tips to help with your sleep routine so you can unlock the full potential of a good night’s rest.
Before we get started though it is important to remember that when evaluating your sleep habits, the challenge becomes figuring out how to break the bad habits and having a plan in place if you falter. That plan must include forgiving yourself if you have slip-ups and making sure you only start with 1 or 2 routine changes at a time. Pick which one(s) make the most sense and work best for you.
1.Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule:
Groundbreaking…I know. But it is true, our bodies thrive on routine, and establishing a consistent sleep schedule can help regulate your internal clock. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This practice helps synchronize your body's natural sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm), making it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed. We have all heard this before and have maybe attempted it for a couple days or weeks, but schedules are fluid, and it becomes tedious trying to hit the same time every day/night. Trust me, I have been there. But remember to allow yourself some flexibility and if you miss a day, or a few in a row, it’s ok. Just get back on schedule when you can and don’t fall for the “I will just catch up on sleep over the weekend” fallacy.
2. Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine:
Create a calming pre-sleep routine to signal to your body that it's time to wind down. This might include activities like reading a book, taking a warm shower/bath, gentle stretching, or practicing meditation. Avoid stimulating activities like checking emails or engaging in intense exercise at least an hour before bedtime.
I personally have a 5-minute stretch routine that I do every night either while watching TV or right before I get into bed and find that this works best for me. As someone who is constantly listening to what my body is telling me, I have nailed it down to 5 stretches that address my tension holding areas and knowing I have the tools to help relieve my physical stress does wonders for easing any additional mental stress I have before falling asleep. If you want to figure out what stretches or mobility movements we would recommend for your sleep routine, sign up for a personal training session with one of our highly qualified trainers!
3. Optimize Your Sleep Environment:
Create a sleep-conducive environment in your bedroom. Keep the room cool, quiet, and dark and invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support good sleep posture.
If I could shout this from the rooftops I would!!! I cannot emphasize enough how important this tip is. A change to your environment might just be the only thing you need to do in order to achieve the quality sleep you need. Let’s go into a little more detail about some of these suggestions…
Keep the room cool - As part of the sleep-wake cycle, your body experiences various metabolic changes throughout the day. One of these is melatonin production, which begins in the evening to prepare you for sleep and is accompanied by a natural drop in core body temperature. Keeping your bedroom at 62-68°F will produce more melatonin and help signal to your body that it’s time to slow down and rest.
Keep the room quiet – Some people are lucky enough to have complete silence in their homes. The majority of us know that is not an option. From traffic, to kids, to creaky floorboards, to pets, there are an unlimited number of sounds that can wake us up, keep us awake, and make us agitated. This is why white noise (think TV static or fan) and pink noise (waves or rain) devices have become so popular and are a necessity for my sleep environment. Whether it is a fan or actual noise machine (I use both), having a consistent, soothing sound to help mask or block out unwanted noises will audibly signal to your body that it is time for bed and improve your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Keep the room dark – Light is the most important external factor affecting your circadian rhythm and research demonstrates that closing your eyes isn’t enough; your eyelids can’t block sufficient light. When light enters the eye, it is sensed by a special group of cells on the retina, which is carried to the brain and interpreted as information about the time of day. The brain then sends signals throughout the body to control organs and other systems in accordance with that time of day. Natural and/or artificial light exposure can easily cause your circadian rhythm to become misaligned and trick your brain into thinking it is time to wake up. To block natural light, I highly recommend investing in blackout curtains. For artificial light see the next tip.
4. Limit Screen Time Before Bed:
The blue light emitted by electronic devices can interfere with the production of melatonin, our sleep-inducing hormone. Aim to turn off electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers at least an hour before bedtime. If you must use your screen before bed, try using a blue light filter so a warmer, less invasive color temperature is displayed. On your iPhone or iPad, go to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift and from here you schedule your phone to change its display during specific times. Mine is set for 9pm to 7am.
5. Watch Your Diet:
What you eat and drink can significantly impact your sleep. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime. Instead, opt for a light snack if you're hungry. Consider herbal teas like chamomile, which have calming properties.
6. Get Regular Exercise:
Regular physical activity promotes better sleep but try to finish your workout at least a few hours before bedtime. Exercise helps regulate your sleep patterns and contributes to a deeper, more restful sleep.
7. Manage Stress:
High-stress levels can be a major impediment to a good night's sleep. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or yoga to help calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep.
8. Limit Naps:
While short naps can be beneficial, long or irregular napping during the day can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you need to nap, aim for a 20 to 30-minute power nap in the early afternoon.
These tips are not groundbreaking and I’m sure you have heard them before but know there is a difference between understanding a concept and really internalizing it as part of your behavior. Not everyone is wired the same way, which means not everyone winds down the same, so it is imperative you choose tips that work for you so they can eventually become habit.
Garrett Withiam, ATC
Assistant Director of Health & Fitness
Personal Training Manager