A bedtime routine is not just important for children, it is an essential aspect of adult self-care.
Evidence shows that by preforming the same rituals nightly prior to bed the mind and body become primed for sleep. This routine is part of good sleep hygiene and has a few key aspects to support effective sleep habits.
Your bed should only be a place for sleep (and sex)!
Associating the bed with sleep helps your mind and body start the transition from wake to sleep. Emailing, texting, watching TV, writing “to-do lists,” etc from bed causes the pillow to becomes a trigger for the mind to be stimulated rather than relaxed, calm, and quieted. A good tip is to charge your phone somewhere other than the bedroom to keep temptation at bay.
The bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine the optimal temperature for sleep is around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Perhaps you have a bright street light shining through your window or your bed mate uses a reading lamp; try black out blinds or a face mask. Neighbors loud or living with someone who snores? Give a noise machine or ear plugs a try.
Avoid screen time for at least 30 minutes prior to bed to allow for the mind to wind down.
Television, emails, social media can all be stimulating and stressful. This stimulation keeps our brains alert thus delaying sleep. Furthermore, the light emitted from phones and tablets has been shown to decrease melatonin levels in the brain, the exact hormone needed in order to have effective restful sleep. Instead of screen time, pick up a book (though not a real “page turner!”), or journal, or listen to a guided meditation.
Keep a consistent wake time.
Even on weekends the consistent wake time is important. It is ok to allow for a few hits of the snooze button but no more than 30 minutes. Similarly try to avoid napping. Keeping a steady schedule promotes a healthy circadian rhythm which helps prevent delayed sleep onset that can lead to sleep difficulties over time.
Find a place in your home to retreat to on nights you find you cannot fall asleep after 30 minutes.
This should be a calm, quiet, softly lit area. Plan to go there, have a routine of reading, journaling, meditating, having decaffeinated tea; some type of calming activity until you begin to feel sleepy, then return to bed to try to sleep again.
Give the above tips a try, I hope you enjoy creating your bedtime routine and happy sleeping!
Hello! My name is Carrie Ward and I am a board-certified Internal Medicine MD and an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. I am passionate about medicine and find fulfillment in the diversity of my work. I spend most of my time in the outpatient setting where I provide patient-focused comprehensive care to an adult population. Additionally, I enjoy mentoring future doctors from the medical school and spending time in the inpatient setting on the teaching service with the interns and residents. Finally, I am a mom of two-year-old twin boys. I have a true appreciation for the complexities of women’s health and how often it can take a back seat when life gets busy. I hope you might find the “Female Health Collective” a helpful resource to you; I am honored to be a part of it and hope you enjoy my contributions!