One of the hardest lessons of becoming an adult is understanding you’re not a teenager or kid anymore. You might need to establish a routine for your life, including how you sleep, and then stick to it. You have to be your own motivation and learn to hold yourself accountable when you don’t. These are hard realizations that many adults struggle with long after they’ve graduated college, started their careers and even had families. These routines can vary from something like brushing your teeth at night, to working out three days per week, to the bedtime you give yourself to ensure you’re well-rested for the next day. Sure, we can have the positive motivation from our friends and family, but ultimately, we must make the choices ourselves.
What’s great about doing this as an adult is there are no rules to follow other than your own, and you can implement an array of different strategies to help you create and commit to these routines. Getting a good night’s sleep can be impacted by several factors, with time being just one element of many that can make or break your sleep habits.
Below are a few tips for you to add to your night routine for better sleep.
Wind down early
Once you’ve decided on your ideal bedtime, work backwards and begin winding down an hour or two before. This way you’re getting your body ready for sleep. Unfortunately, the adages are true: setting yourself up for sleep makes it easier to fall asleep. Choose calm and low-effort activities to fill your night so you’re not overstimulating yourself before bedtime.
Set the mood
Now that you’ve given yourself the time to wind down before bed, give that same attention to your environment. A game-changing moment for my nighttime routine was buying a smart bulb for my lamp that can be controlled via an app. I can change the colors of the light and the brightness of the bulb. In the evening, once I start my routine, I dim the brightness from 100% to 50% and to a color that makes me feel soothed. Sometimes that’s red, sometimes it’s green. The color wheel choice means that there’s a color to match any mood and help my internal clock start to power down.
Meditate before bed
I’ve shared the impacts of starting your day with mindfulness meditations, but they’re also great for ending your day. Focusing your mind and putting yourself in a thoughtful headspace is a great way to get ready for a nighttime routine. Lots of us deal with racing thoughts and a brain that never stops, which makes it hard to fall asleep. Meditating during your nighttime routine can help you quite those thoughts and make the process of falling asleep more manageable. Not sure where to start? There are free options on YouTube as well as guided nighttime meditations on services like Spotify and Apple Music to help you find the right meditations for you.
Stretch before bed
Never underestimate the power of a good stretch! At the end of a long day, most people could benefit from doing some full body stretches to relax their muscles and ease their minds. There is no right or wrong way to stretch as the purpose is to relax our muscles and body, and provide relief for any aches, pains or stressors we didn’t realize we were holding in our bodies. You can find nighttime routine stretches via YouTube or mental health apps like Healthspace. This is also something you can ask your doctor about, or talk to a specialist, like a physical therapist, about stretches that will help with winding down.
Give yourself grace
Seriously, be kind to yourself. Even something that society view as “simple” or “easy” can be difficult for many people, especially after a global pandemic. It makes sense that our collective sleep patterns and sleep health has declined in the last few years and why having a routine is so essential. So take one or all these tips with the understanding that you won’t know what works for you without some trial and error, all of which takes time. Routines aren’t built in a day, and that 21-day habit builder anecdote is a great place to start. If something doesn’t work for you, you can always try something else or started again.