Sleep, or its lack thereof, has been shown to have a direct effect on one’s quality of life. Health experts have emphasized for the longest time the importance of getting good, quality sleep on a regular basis. It’s not so much as the number of sleep you get every night but rather the class or grade of your sleep.
Unfortunately, a large chunk of the human population find it difficult to drift off into dreamland. They toss and turn, forcing themselves to fall asleep but, unable to do so, end up feeling anxious and frustrated. These feelings they carry over to the next day, and the cycle goes on and on.
However, there’s no need for you to lose sleep (no pun intended) over this issue. An effective approach to counteracting poor sleeping habits is to simply establish new ones before you hit the sack.
Think of these pre-bedtime habits as ways to prep yourself up—body, mind, and spirit—for sleep. Since they are habits, give them a bit of time to work and to see results.
Without further ado, here are 5 simple sleep-friendly habits you can do before bedtime to promote better health.
1. Go to bed at the same hour every day.
One effective way you can trigger your body to activate its “bedtime system” is by going to bed at the same time every day.
You don’t even have to fall asleep right away when your head hits the pillow. The goal is to establish a bedtime routine that, upon execution, informs your body, “Hey, it’s time for rest.”
When you turn in at a particular schedule every day, your body gradually gets used to the routine. By sticking to a sleep schedule, it’s easier for your body to ease itself into sleep at the appointed time.
There’s no right or wrong bedtime; the trick is to be as consistent as possible, or to stick as much as you can to the chosen timeline. Follow your bedtime schedule faithfully, and you’ll see results in no time.
2. Work on your sleep environment.
What you perceive before you close your eyes for a good night’s rest has a powerful impact on how you eventually sleep later on in the night. Time and time again, the importance of having ideal sleeping quarters have been stated by experts. It’s time you put their finding to good use.
For starters, make sure you bedroom (or wherever room you choose to sleep in) is conducive for a night’s rest and relaxation. Keep the room clean, neat, and organized. You don’t have to obsessively keep your room in order; everything should be simply kept away, with no clutter in sight.
Light some scented candles, or play soft music. Use silk pillowcases and sheets, and put on a light, breezy nightgown. Do whatever works for you to set up a calm, soothing environment that’s likely to help you drift off to dreamland.
3. Turn off your electronic gadgets at least an hour before your appointed bedtime.
Nowadays, more and more people experience trouble going to sleep. The surge of using electronic gadgets—cell phones and tablets, for example—before hitting the sack contributes to this worldwide problem. These gadgets have become large parts of humankind, so much so that it’s hard to stay away from them even before bedtime.
You’ll need a healthy serving of self-control for this. Unplug your electronics at least an hour before bedtime. No TV, no cell phones, no laptops, no tablets. See, the screen’s light somehow tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime when it’s actually not. Because of this stimulus, it’s harder for your brain to shut down and program itself for sleep.
Train yourself to do away with your gadgets (or spend less time with them) when evening strikes. Your brain and body will thank you for it.
4. Drink something warm and soothing.
Warm liquids evoke a comfortable, homey feel—perfect for when you want to go to sleep. See, for sleep to be possible, your body and mind need to be in a state of relaxation and comfort.
Popular choices for warm drinks are milk and tea (the decaffeinated type). Fix yourself a warm glass of any of these liquids. Take slow, luxurious sips as you prepare yourself to go to bed.
Remember to be in the moment. Be mindful as you take a sip of each liquid. Let its warmth and comfort wash over you and your senses. Note its distinct taste. This moment of meditation also benefits your mind by undoing the mental knots of tension and replacing them with relaxation.
Stay away from beverages with a rich caffeine content. The goal is to promote a state of mind, through particular beverages, that is conducive to sleeping.
5. Set aside time to write something.
You wouldn’t want to feel like you’re simply floating along in life, would you? To prevent just that, a few minutes before bedtime, make time to write down the events that took place during the day—or about anything, really.
The physical act of writing “forces” your body and senses to engage and focus in the act. You’re in the moment; you’re present. In addition, writing helps clear your mind and sharpen your focus.
Ever have those times when you can’t fall asleep because you’re too busy worrying about this or that? Help your mind relax by writing down your worries, thoughts, and troubles. Don’t think about grammar, style, or structure. What matters is you get everything out on paper.
You’ll find yourself feeling calmer, sharper, more in control. Seeing your worries on paper, in concrete form, transforms your psyche and shifts your brain into looking for solutions instead of merely focusing on the problems at hand.
With this, you free up some space in your mind for it to concentrate on the core issues. Your worries are now on paper; you’ll deal with them tomorrow, when you’re mind’s fresh. Right now, you’re ready to go to sleep, and you know what? You’ll do just that.