7 Habits That Will Prepare Your Body For Bedtime
A daily wind-down ritual can help you fall asleep more easily and consistently. Try any or all of the following soothing exercises for a restful sleep.
Take a hot bath
According to 1997 research done by New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, your temperature normally drops at night, commencing two hours before sleep and peaking at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. Your body temperature rises while you soak in a hot tub, and the fast cooling that follows soothes you.
Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine, suggests soaking in the tub for 20 to 30 minutes two hours before bed. “If you take a bath and increase your temperature by a few degrees, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep slumber,” she adds. A shower is less effective but can work, as well.
Install a dimmer switch
In the late evening, your body releases the chemical melatonin, which makes you sleepy—but only if it receives the right signals from your surroundings.
“Melatonin is your night hormone, and it won’t flow if the lights are turned on,” Walsleben explains. “Start transitioning to dark as early as 9 or 10 p.m.” Before getting ready for bed, sitting in a dimly lit room can help you relax and fall asleep faster.
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Layout your clothes
Setting habits and sticking to them every night can help your body recognize that it is getting dark. “We recommend that people develop regular nighttime routines before going to bed in order to help their brain change into sleep mode,” says Gary Zammit, PhD, director of the Sleep Disorders Institute in New York City. “Laying out your pajamas, brushing your hair, or brushing your teeth—these routines can be incredibly sleep-inducing.”
Avoid P.M. stimulants
Because caffeine is a stimulant, skipping your usual cup of coffee as early as lunchtime—should help you go asleep faster. “I don’t want patients drinking caffeine after noontime if they’ve had a bad night’s sleep since it can stay in the system for a long period,” adds Walsleben.
Nicotine, according to Walsleben, is also a stimulant; smoking to unwind before bed can really have the opposite effect, raising your heart rate and keeping your mind active.
Shut down electronics
While it may be convenient to check up on communications with pals right before bed, this habit may be increasing the amount of time you toss and turn. According to Walsleben, lit screens (including televisions) are stimulating and should be avoided. If that’s not the case, you can go on and browse our mattresses here at Mattresses Archives – Relax Bedding.
“Before your scheduled bedtime, begin slowing down your brain by doing something peaceful, such as reading in a comfortable chair—somewhere other than bed,” she advises. “Stop watching television and reading your email.”
If cold feet are keeping you awake, especially in the winter, warm up your feet with a beautiful pair of socks. According to Phyllis Zee, MD, PhD, professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, the extra layer under the blankets can help enhance circulation in your extremities, which can help you fall asleep faster.
Cut evening food and drinks
A heavy meal or spicy snack too close to bedtime may cause your digestive system to work overtime while the rest of your body sleeps. And, while drinking alcohol with dinner or as a nightcap may make you tired, it will alter your sleep patterns later in the night, preventing you from getting the deep, restorative REM sleep you need to feel rejuvenated.
You may wake up multiple times during the night to use the bathroom if you drink a significant amount of any beverage before going to bed. “Most adults in their forties and fifties have to get up at night for this reason,” says William C. Dement, MD, Stanford University professor of psychiatry and author of The Promise of Sleep.
A consistent wind-down routine every day can help you fall asleep more quickly and reliably. Try any or all of the following relaxing behaviors for a restful night.