Sleep is often one of the biggest indicators of overall wellness in a person’s life. At this moment, many of us are feeling a lot more stress and overwhelm than usual. A good place to start managing stress and improving sleep is to develop a nightly routine that signals your body and mind that it is time for bed and sleep. The habits, routine, and process you use to fall asleep has a large impact on how deep and how long you stay asleep. The following are a few suggestions for you to consider as you work to improve your sleep routine and habits:
The bed is for sleeping. Try not to engage in other activities that stimulate your brain while you are in your bed. If you like to watch a bit of TV, finish up some things on your laptop, or scroll on your phone, do so outside of your bed. These activities keep you alert and awake. Your focus should be on relaxing and settling into sleep.
Sleep like a baby. For decades it has been recommended to develop a sleep routine for a child starting in infancy. Establishing a nightly routine-changing into pajamas, using the bathroom and brushing teeth, reading stories, dimming lights and turning on a sound machine- helps a child’s body and brain to start the process of getting ready for and falling to sleep. Adults can benefit from this same process. By signaling our bodies using the same routine each night, we can train and teach our bodies that it is time for bed. You may already have some nightly routine, such as, the order in which you brush your teeth and change into pajamas, but incorporating more actions like playing a consistent type of music, timing the lights, and lighting aromatherapy candle, strengthens the signal that it’s time to relax, can get more of the body and brain focused on the process of sleep.
Use your 5 senses: Adding various sensory indicators can help create strong signals to your brain and body that it is time to start to calm down and fall asleep. Think about your five senses and what might be soothing and calming at bedtime? The smell of lavender is often thought of as a calming scent. Instrumental music or a white noise machine may help you to doze off. Avoid screens but a physical book can help you relax. Or, close your eyes and visualize a place you find relaxing. The sense of touch might include soft pajamas, sheets, or maybe using a lavender scented lotion before bed. Tasting something consistently each night can help signal your body to know that it’s night time. People of all ages respond to warm milk or even a glass of water before bedtime.
Establishing a longer and more peaceful sleep routine with various signals to your body and mind can help to reduce stress and increase sleep. Adapt your routine to be something you can achieve nightly, remember that consistency is key, so make it your own and doable. Developing these habits can lead to improvements in stress, rest, and overall well being.