Getting a proper night of rest can be challenging at times with a busy life. But, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your health. Fortunately, there are lots of healthy bedtime rituals for you to practice that help support a long, deep sleep. Read all about them below.
The Importance Of Sleep For Your Health
Proper sleep is as important to your health as diet and exercise. Getting a good night’s sleep does more than make you feel energetic and spry the next day. It affects your overall health and well-being by supporting the following:
- A healthy weight1,2,3
- Heart health4
- Immune health5
- A positive mood6
What Is A Good Night’s Rest?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that average adults get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Whereas school-age children should get between 9-11 hours.7
Within that period of sleep, you should experience a sleep cycle of four phases that lasts around 90 minutes. It’s crucial to go through all four phases to experience the complete restorative power of rest.8
Habits And Bedtime Rituals To Promote Better Sleep
There’s lots you can do throughout the day and at night to ensure you experience effective sleep. Check some of these bedtime rituals and habits that may help get you on the path to having a good night’s sleep night after night.
Stick To A Schedule
Many people struggle to go to bed at a regular time every night, but it’s one of the best things you can do for your sleep. Sticking to a certain bedtime gets your body and mind in the habit of falling asleep at a certain time.9
When the clock strikes bedtime, your internal clock will naturally start to prepare for sleep. This makes it easier to slip into slumber. Try to go to bed at roughly the same time every night. For the best results, wake up at the same time each morning, even on weekends.10
Take A Deep Breath
Breathing exercises and meditation before bed may help your mind and body relax. Get into your favorite yoga position or pause for a bit of meditation. This kind of relaxation can provide crucial physiological changes that support restful sleep.11
In fact, the body’s state during meditation can mirror the body during sleep. This may make for a smoother transition from wakefulness to slumber when your head hits the pillow.12
Turn Off Those Devices
Tablets and smartphones can make falling asleep difficult for a number of reasons. For one thing, they stimulate your mind with images and text right when you are trying to relax and doze off.13
Also, they produce bright light and the short-wavelength blue light. Exposure to this light before bed delays your circadian rhythm and melatonin production. That’s because the light tricks the body into thinking it’s day time. The more time you spend looking at a screen before bed, the harder it may be to fall asleep.14
Limit Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that blocks sleep-inducing chemicals like melatonin.15 That same pep you get from coffee can become a hindrance at night when you want to sleep.
This is especially true if you drink coffee or caffeine in the afternoon. That’s because it takes six hours for half of caffeine’s stimulating properties to leave your system. As such, you should avoid drinking anything with caffeine at least six hours before bed.16
Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol may help people fall asleep quicker, but it also causes them to wake up in the middle of the night. That’s because alcohol disrupts your circadian rhythm. It also prevents you from achieving REM sleep, which is the most important and restorative phase of sleep.17
Make Yourself A Sleepytime Cup Of Tea
There are lots of bedtime drink options that don’t involve liquor or caffeine. You can make yourself a nice herbal tea with something like chamomile, which has been shown to support restful sleep.18 But, be careful not to drink too much right before bed. You don’t want to be up all night taking trips to the bathroom.
Avoid Eating Right Before Bed
Try to eat a few hours before bed to give your body time to digest. Also, avoid spicy foods for dinner. They can lead to heartburn in the night that can make you uncomfortable and keep you awake.19
Books and stories before bed aren’t just for children. Reading is a great way for anyone to relax and get sleepy. An hour or so of calm before bed is crucial, as it helps your body shift into sleep mode.20 However, avoid e-readers that emit bright light which can keep you awake and prevent melatonin secretion.21
Reduce Distracting Sounds With White Noise
White noise is a constant ambient sound that helps balance or soften loud noises. It can come from a fan, sound conditioner, or anything that makes a constant soothing background noise. Use white noise to help drown out any sounds that might otherwise keep you awake.22
Proper Sleep Takes A Little Work
Getting a great night’s sleep can require planning, new habits, and a bit of work. But, the reward for your effort is well worth it. Sleep is crucial to your overall health.
Use the healthy habits above to start enjoying all the amazing benefits of good sleep. You might find that the results from a solid night of rest can be an absolute dream.