Updated: Aug 9
***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical, legal, or health advice and is not a substitute for mental health services
Have you been having trouble sleeping lately? If so, then a sleep routine may be useful for encouraging better quality sleep.
What we do before bed can have an impact - positive or negative - on how restful our sleep is. Being selective about the activities we engage in during the evening hours is key.
Keep reading below for some helpful tips for creating a stellar sleep routine.
Get in some exercise at least a few hours before bedtime so that you are not too stimulated before you go to bed but are fatigued enough when it comes time to sleep. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy. This could be yoga, stretching, going for a walk or run, using weights, or engaging in body weight exercises. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you are moving your body in some way and have fun.
2. Read a book
Digging into a good book can be just what's needed to help your mind focus on something other than work, worries, stressors, or your to-do list. Are you a fan of fiction or non-fiction? Do you enjoy reading about history, are you partial to auto-biographies, or is there some other topic that lights you up? Pick a genre that you feel you can lose yourself in just for a little while. If you can read a paperback book or listen to an audiobook, even better. More on limiting screen time in the next tip.
3. Limit screens
Reducing the amount of time you spend on your computer, tablet, or phone before bed is so important as too much screen activity can negatively impact your ability to sleep. If it helps, set a timer at least an hour before bed as a signal that it's time to switch off your devices and do something that is not related to being on a screen. Maybe you can listen to music, spend time with your loved ones, call a friend, or focus on a hobby.
If you find you have lots of thoughts swirling around in your head, take some time to journal - this will help get these thoughts out of your head and onto paper. The act of releasing the thoughts from your mind might bring you some relief or reduce feelings of overwhelm and stress.
Meditation can help clear your mind as you prepare to sleep. You can listen to a guided meditation on Youtube or the streaming service of your choice. Some people like to listen to nature sounds, other people prefer silent meditation with a bell signaling the start and end of the meditation, and yet others prefer to listen to a soothing voice that talks them through the meditation. If this is new for you and you aren't sure which one you might like, try different formats and see what stands out.
6. Prepare for the next day
Part of your evening could involve preparing for the next day (e.g. making your lunch, setting out your work clothes, etc.). This can help you feel ready for the day ahead, confident that you can hit the ground running, and allow you to better cope with any unexpected issues that might arise.
7. Consistent sleep and wake schedule
Try your best to stick with going to bed and waking up around the same time every day. This signals to your mind and body when it's time to sleep or wake up and you might be able to sleep more soundly as a result. If needed, set an alarm so that you wake up the same time each morning and also set an alarm in the evening as a signal that you need to get ready for bed.
8. Adjust your environment in support of better sleep
Invest in black out blinds, use comfortable sheets and pyjamas, clear your bedroom of clutter, and keep your room at a comfortable temperature. Creating a comfortable set up can enable you to achieve higher-quality sleep. You may not be able to do all of these ideas at once and that is ok - start with one aspect at a time and move forward from there.
Sleep is one of the most important factors influencing our health and mental health. If we can make a conscious effort to get enough hours of sleep per night by establishing a relaxing evening routine the night before, being consistent with our sleep-wake cycle, and creating a comfortable environment, these things can go a long way towards improving the quality of our sleep and, ultimately, our overall well-being.
Wishing you well on your mental health journey.
Davina Tiwari MSW, RSW, CSFT
Registered Social Worker and Certified Solution Focused Therapist
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