If you have ever found yourself tossing and turning at night, then you’ll understand the sheer panic of not getting enough sleep. The feeling of knowing you have an overwhelming to-do list for the morning and the fear that there’s a solid chance you could be asleep by lunch.
Over the years, we’ve begun to over glamorize constant hustle. From the moment we open our eyes we have things fighting for our attention. We have apps that are designed to be as addictive as possible, we’re constantly connected to pretty much everyone we’ve ever known, and we brag about being able to do as much as possible on very little sleep like it’s a badge of honour. Regardless of what someone may tell you, everybody needs sleep – quality sleep, that is. And part of getting quality sleep means establishing a nightly routine for yourself.
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What’s the point of having a nightly routine?
If you follow some sort of a morning routine to get you out the door (or into a Zoom meeting) quickly and effectively, then think of a nightly routine as the same sort of idea. Having a nightly routine is essentially like having little cues for yourself that it’s almost time to sleep. Your brain is learning that when you do X, Y, and Z, it’s immediately followed by going to sleep. The more you do it, the better it can send the appropriate messages to the rest of your body that it’s time to fall asleep.
We’re all unique, which means we all have different needs – this goes for our night-time routines, too. Things such as what time you start work, whether you work shift work, whether you have kids, if you’re a student, and roughly a million other things can play a role in what you’ll need in your routine. But as a general rule of thumb, here are 5 things you need to include.
5 Things You Need in Your Nightly Routine
1. Stop the caffeine early
Okay, so maybe this isn’t necessarily in your nightly routine (well, in so many words) but, it’s still extremely important. Caffeine, quite literally, is definitely to help you stay awake, and having it too late in the day can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. As a general rule of thumb, try to cut the caffeine at least 8 hours before you go to bed.
2. Develop a proper skincare routine/good oral hygiene
This one might also be a little obvious, but it’s important to develop a proper skincare routine and good oral hygiene. And the younger you can do this, the better you’ll be. This means removing your makeup every night, cleansing your face, moisturizing before bed, and bushing and flossing your teeth. Not only will this be incredible for your skincare and dental health, but it also helps to remind you that it’s almost time to go to bed, as well as physically feel the difference.
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3. Set screen-free time
Social media is designed to be addictive, and the blue light from our phones is harsh on our eyes and is designed to keep us awake – in general, not a great combo for when you’re trying to fall asleep. Try to give yourself some screen-free time before bed. Use this time to journal, read, do some light stretches, or even just chat with your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, roommate, or doggo. You may not notice a huge difference the first or second time you do this but keep with it. Eventually, your body should start to equate this time with going to sleep.
4. Focus on lighting
The goal is to try to create a relaxing environment, so pay attention to your lighting. Turn off the bright overhead lights, and instead, try to stick to things such as soft table lamps, candles, diffusers, string lights, or anything that isn’t too bright and doesn’t strain your eyes.
5. Pick a bedtime
Do you remember the days of being a kid and dreaming of a life where you didn’t need a bedtime? Well, at the risk of disappointing 6-year-old you, you may want to consider setting one. Setting a bedtime for yourself will help you to make sure you’re going to actually get enough sleep, but over time it will likely help your body to fall asleep quicker since it’ll already know what to expect. This may feel difficult at first, especially if you’re trying to go to bed substantially earlier than what you’re used to, so be patient with yourself and go slowly. If you’re used to going to bed at midnight, but want to go to bed at 10 instead, try going to bed at 11:30 to start, then bring it to 11, 10:30, and finally 10. Having smaller goals breaks it up and makes it easier to incorporate into your current life.