Human beings are creatures of habit, and when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, it’s no different. You have to develop useful sleep habits to sleep well, and if you’ve developed bad habits along the way, you’re probably not sleeping as peacefully or deeply as you’d like.
That’s easy to change with the right bedtime rituals. Doing the same things each night that are scientifically proven to help you fall asleep faster and sleep more peacefully will correct your bad sleeping habits. That can change your life.
6 Bedtime Rituals That Ensure a Good Night’s Sleep
Start doing your bedtime rituals about an hour before you intend to hit the sack. This gives your body time to respond to the “sleep soon” signals you’re sending with these actions. These activities are all about signaling your body and mind to transition softly from the hustle and bustle of the day to the sweet stillness of sleep.
1. Adjust the thermostat
About an hour before bed, turn down your thermostat to the optimum temperature for sleep: around 65 degrees, contrary to popular belief.
Many people think 72 degrees is the perfect temperature to help you fall asleep, but the National Sleep Foundation found that the cooler you are before becoming “cold,” the faster you fall asleep.
And while blankets and tons of pillows can make the bed feel very comfy right when you get into bed, it quickly heats up and can cause you to get overheated and become restless. It’s better to stick to seasonally-appropriate blankets and the minimum number of pillows you can sleep comfortably with.
2. Avoid the bedroom
Don’t watch TV or catch up on work from your bed. To train your body and mind to associate the bedroom with sleep and rest, you have to get used to only engaging in those activities there.
That means not napping on the couch (when you can help it), getting out of bed as soon as you’re awake instead of lounging in bed for an hour, and staying out of the bedroom at night until it’s actually time for you to go to sleep.
3. Make the kitchen off-limits
The phrase ‘bedtime snack’ is a thing for a reason. At bedtime, you’ve had a few hours to digest dinner and you’re starting to feel a bit peckish. Sweets and carbs sound tempting at this time, but they actually do more harm than good.
Eating high-glycemic index foods before bed can cause a spike and resulting crash in blood sugar which can wake you up right when you’ve settled into a deep sleep. If you’re really hungry and must eat something, choose a snack high in protein or fiber, like jerky or nuts.
4. Keep animals out
Did you know that 57% of pet owners let their animals sleep with them?
Interestingly, a third of those pet owners report that they’re awakened at least once during the night, every night, by their pets. To give yourself the best chance for uninterrupted sleep, put your pets outside your bedroom at night. If you just can’t bear to part, try crating them overnight or placing a pet bed on the other side of your bedroom to keep them out of your bed.
5. Curl up with a book
Reading before bed used to be one of the most common bedtime rituals, but the advent of smartphones and tablets seems to have pushed this pastime to the side. Start collecting books that you’re interested in and start reading a few pages each night before bed.
It will help you lower your heart rate and train your brain for bedtime without the brain-stimulating blue light that mobile devices and televisions put off.
6. Quiet reflection
Quiet reflection, meditation, prayer–whatever you want to call it, take some quiet time to yourself each night before bed. Like reading, it will help you lower your heart rate and signal to your body that it’s time for rest. It’s a wonderful way to transition from being up and awake to sleepy and lying down.
Pick up a book on meditation to learn the basics, or just lie down with your eyes closed, listening to the sound of your breath, a nearby fan, the drone of the refrigerator, etc.