Good sleeping habits begin with a regular bedtime routine. If you thought that was just for kids, it's time to reconsider the importance of pre-sleep rituals in your life. A relaxing bedtime routine helps to prepare your brain and body for bed and promotes restful sleep.
If you try to jump straight from the swirling thoughts and frantic activity of your everyday life into a deep sleep, chances are you'll be unsuccessful. That's because your mind and body aren't controlled by flipping a switch to the 'off' position in that way.
However, establishing a soothing bedtime routine as an integral part of your sleeping habits sets the stage for a good nights sleep.
Humans are creatures of habit and our natural body rhythms crave consistency. So, when you're planning your bedtime routine, keep things simply and easy because your ritual needs to be something you can do every single night. If you make it too lengthy or intricate you're setting yourself up for failure.
Your pre-sleep behaviors should be soothing and relaxing. The aim is to give yourself the time and space to wind down from the stresses of the day and reach a calming state of relaxation to make it easier to fall asleep.
If your sleeping habits include some of the following, you'll be well on your way to establishing an effective bedtime routine.
Take a warm bath
A drop in body temperature helps to trigger the need for sleep so a warm bath (or a soak in the hot-tub) may help you fall asleep faster. You can enhance this effect by using aromatherapy products (bath oils, scented candles and so on) with calming properties.
Practice Relaxation Techniques
Today's fast-paced world tends to make us tense and irritable, which can really interfere with your ability to sleep well. Spending some time on relaxing activities (breathing exercises, yoga, massage, meditation, or entle stretches) before bed can lower anxiety levels and calm your body and mind.
Have a Bedtime Snack
A bowl of nachos or that last slice of pizza definitely shouldn't have a place in your bedtime routine. But, certain foods and drinks can have a positive effect on your sleep. Some foods contain an amino-acid called tryptophan that can make you feel sleepy.
Remember that glass of warm milk your mom used to urge you to drink? She knew what she was doing because milk contains tryptophan.
In addition to milk, many dairy products such cheese and yogurt contain this chemical, as do soy products, poultry, whole-grains and many seeds/nuts. So, a glass of milk and a handful of wholewheat crackers could be a good addition to your sleeping habits. Many herbal teas can have a relaxing and calming effect, as well.
Avoid Sleep-Destroying Activities & Foods
Any activity that stimulates your brain or body (with the noticeable exception of love-making) can sabotage your bedtime routine. Stay away from horror movies, work e-mail, strenuous exercise, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and spicy foods.
Also, watch out for unexpected side effects of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and natural remedies that you may take for other conditions.
Changing your sleep routine and establishing a bedtime that encourages deep, restful sleep takes time and determination - but the rewards are well worth the effort.