12 Months to a Healthier You: Reevaluating Sleep Routines to Build a Better Bedtime
By Sara Butler
It’s May already -- May! This means it’s time to talk about another topic with big implications for your health and wellness -- sleep. Sleep!
Sleep is something that we all have in common. As humans, we’ll spend a whopping one-third of our lives asleep. That makes it kind of a big deal and a huge contributor to a healthy, happy life. Believe it or not, there is a right way and wrong way to sleep, and people often make big mistakes when it comes to hitting the hay. How do you know if you’re doing it wrong? It all starts with your sleep routine.
As part of our monthly series to affect healthy change in your life, here are some practical tips that you can use to make 2022 your healthiest year ever.
- How to focus on the positive
- How to keep a food journal
- How to cut out sugar or alcohol from your diet
- How to practice good posture every time you sit
So this month, let’s make a point of shoring up your sleep routine so that you’re making the most of that precious shut-eye.
At The Joint Chiropractic, we understand that no one is perfect. You may endeavor to create and stick to the best sleep routine ever, but it doesn’t always work the way you want. That is OK! We’re not looking for perfection. The most helpful thing you can do is understand what you may be doing wrong, then attempt to fix it.
What mistakes are commonly made when it comes to sleep? There are several, such as:
- Surfing the internet - Do you bring your electronics to bed? That’s a big no-no! Your phone, your tablet, and any other electronic device emits blue light, which your brain interprets as sunlight signaling that it’s time to do anything but go to sleep. In fact, it suppresses your body’s ability to create melatonin, that sweet, sweet neurotransmitter that keeps your internal clock accurate.
- Too much caffeine - You may be ruining your bedtime hours before you ever put your head on a pillow. Too much caffeine too late in the day is a dream-buster.
- Turning up the heat - Your body naturally cools down in order to travel to the Land of Nod, so if you’re too hot at night, then you can kiss a visit from the Sandman goodbye. If your room is too hot, there’s a good chance you’ll be too hot too.
Tips for a Better Sleep Routine
Now that you know a few of the most common mistakes, it’s time to talk about what you can do the right way to set yourself for better sleep.
A sleep routine is a set of actions you execute before bed each night, usually about an hour before you want to go to sleep. These routines vary from person to person, but what they all have in common is that they calm you down so that you can fall asleep easily and fast.
To build a better sleep routine you should be sure to:
- Set your bedtime - Everyone has a natural sleep-wake cycle. Your brain begins to shut down your body in the few hours before bedtime. You can make this process more effective by setting the same bedtime each night and setting your alarm to wake at the same time each morning.
- Shut off electronics - Don’t bring electronics to bed with you since that blue light can mess with your body’s natural rhythms. If you need to do something in bed before closing your eyes, an old-fashioned book or magazine can do the trick.
- Take a warm shower - Your body undergoes hormonal changes through the course of the day. At night, melatonin is produced to help prepare you to sleep and your core body temperature also takes a dip. You can help your body along in this process by taking a warm bath or shower to help you get sleepy about an hour before bedtime. The warm water will help your body to quickly cool down once you get out and the water evaporates.
- Stretch and relax - Being relaxed at bedtime is key, so take matters into your own hands and use relaxation techniques like deep breathing to help you release tension. Some light stretching and deep breathing can help your body and mind feel more relaxed and make it easier to fall asleep.
- Get your room ready - Your room should be dark and cool to facilitate great sleep and keeping it quiet never hurt anything, either! Set the temperature in your room to between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, dim the lights, and put curtains over the windows to block light from the outside.
If you can create -- and stick to -- a great bedtime routine that works for you, then great sleep is within your reach! Remember, sleep routines aren’t just for kids, adults also need them to help facilitate a good night's rest.
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