Did you know that almost half of all Americans report that an insufficient amount of sleep or poor sleep affected their daily activities in the past week? Sleep issues, both quantity, and quality impact many aspects of our lives. One key to fixing your sleep issues is to establish a good night time routine before you go to bed each night.
Keep reading for more information about the importance of good sleep habits as well as some tips to create a nighttime routine that will have you sleeping soundly.
Why Is Sleep Important?
This is a no-brainer. Poor sleep affects every aspect of your life: work performance, mood, physical and mental health, safety. Not only does a lack of quality sleep have short-term impacts on you, there are long-term health impacts as well.
In a study of sleep habits among Americans, researchers found that over two-thirds of people with poor sleep quality also reported that they had only poor or fair health. Those with a lack of sleep quality also had lower levels of satisfaction with their lives and had higher levels of stress.
A Lack of Sleep Can Impact Your Health
When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your risk of health problems greatly increases. You’re at a higher risk for heart disease and heart failure, higher risk of suffering a stroke, and higher risk for hypertension and diabetes.
Lack of sleep can also impact your libido, and nobody wants that. Sleep deprivation is also related to depression. People who have been diagnosed with depression are more likely to sleep less than six hours a night. Those with insomnia are five times more likely to develop depression than others.
You also become more forgetful when you aren’t sleeping well or sleeping enough, your cognitive abilities are diminished, and you are more likely to make wrong decisions when your sleep is poor.
Accidents Are More Likely When You’re Sleep Deprived
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving causes nearly 75,000 crashes a year, with up to 6,000 of these crashes fatal. A lack of sleep slows your response time just like alcohol does. Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as drinking and driving.
Not only is getting behind the wheel dangerous, you could also be in danger if you work in an occupation that requires you to make life-or-death decisions, such as in the medical field. Or, if you work in a profession where you are operating heavy machinery or other equipment that requires you to be alert and focused in order to perform your duties safely.
Poor Sleep Impacts Your Appearance
It can also cause you to gain weight, as lack of sleep can lead to an increase in hunger and appetite. Less sleep impacts the peptides that regulate your appetite. When you’re not sleeping enough, the peptide that stimulates hunger is increased and the peptide that regulates your appetite is decreased.
Lack of sleep not only increases your general hunger, it often increases your cravings for high fat and high carbohydrate foods. It can also age your skin. In the short term, lack of sleep results in puffy eyes and dull skin. In the long term, it can cause fine lines, dark circles under your eyes, and sallow skin.
Now that you know how important sleep is, and how bad it can be for you to not get enough of it, or to not get enough quality sleep, let’s talk about the ways you can improve your night time routine to ensure you are getting plenty of quality sleep.
Night Time Routines for Quality Sleep
What does your current night time routine look like? Do you go to bed way too late, lay there playing on your phone or tablet for a bit, until you finally shut things down? Do you find that even though you’re exhausted, you’re unable to shut off your brain once you lay down for the night?
Just like babies, who thrive on routines, especially nighttime ones, adults need a solid night time routine to make the most of the hours you are sleeping. The following suggestions will hopefully get you sleeping not like a baby (because babies are terrible sleepers!) but more like a rock. Or a log. Or the dead. The point is, these tips will help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Create A Night Time Routine
A night time routine will help you fall asleep faster and sleep soundly. Your night time routine actually starts much earlier than bedtime though. First, be aware of what you are eating or drinking as you get closer to bedtime. Eating too late, eating foods that will upset your stomach, or consuming stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine too late can wreak havoc on your sleep.
That glass of wine or beer you might have before bedtime that you think helps you sleep may help you fall asleep faster, but can impact the second half of your sleep cycle. Alcohol too late can make you restless. If you must, have a drink with dinner and limit alcohol to the early evening and limit the number of drinks you have as well.
If you do find your stomach growling after dinner and before bed, eat a sleep superfood. Foods that can help you sleep could be a banana with cottage cheese, yogurt, or milk and graham crackers.
Shut Down the Electronics
When it gets dark and close to bedtime, our bodies produce melatonin. When we’re staring at screens at night, the melatonin production is delayed, meaning we have a harder time falling asleep. Try shutting off the electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
Take a Hot Bath or Shower
About two hours before you go to sleep, your body temperature starts dropping. Soaking in a hot bath, and the subsequent cool-down relaxes you and the drop in temperature helps put you in a deep sleep.
Much like babies are bathed at night to relax them, it works with adults too. You can even incorporate essential oils or other scents to promote relation and sleep, such as lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood.
If you can soak in a hot bath for 20 minutes before bed, your sleep should improve. A hot shower isn’t as effective as a bath but can work in a pinch or if you just aren’t a bath person.
You should also try to go to bed at the same time each night. This will help your body get into a routine where it knows when it’s time to start winding down. Contrary to popular belief, you can’t “catch up” on sleep, so going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time each day will help your overall sleep quality.
Find A Way to Relax
This could be anything from reading a book (not on a screen, though!), doing relaxation or breathing exercises, stretching, or journaling can help you relax at night. The key to relaxing is to slow your brain down and ready it for sleep.
Now that you’re relaxed and ready to hit the hay, an inviting bedroom can also help you sleep. What you sleep in can also work against your sleep quality. Be sure your pajamas are comfortable, will keep you at the right temperature, and aren’t going to wake you up if they get tangled or you get too hot or cold.
Your Sleep Environment
Get yourself sheets that you love. High thread count cotton, flannel, microfiber, linen. Whatever it is, find something that is comfortable and inviting. Make sure you have the right pillow and mattress as well.
Find the right temperature where you won’t be cold or won’t wake up sweaty. The ideal sleeping temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Your room should also be as dark and as quiet as possible. If you hear traffic noise or noise from neighbors, a white noise machine can also be a good investment to help you sleep.
How Will You Improve Your Night Time Routine?
These tips are sure to help you create a night time routine that will have you sleeping longer and more soundly.
If you want more tips and tricks to help with your sleep, check out our blog for sleeping guides and even mattress reviews. There’s even a sleep calculator that will help you figure out the optimal bedtime for when you want to wake up. It takes into account sleep cycles and our natural body rhythms to help you find the best bedtime for your needs.