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How to: Create a bedtime ritual

Christine Dykema

A bedtime routine is a great way to start training your brain to trigger the process of going to sleep. The day can be so jam-packed that our minds are still spinning by the end of it; getting to bed at a reasonable time (and falling asleep) can feel next to impossible. So, let’s go back to your early years–yep, to when you were a baby.

When your parents put you to sleep, they probably went through a sequence of activities to help you to wind down for sleepy time at the same time each day. You might been given a warning that it’s time to brush teeth and put on jammies; you might have had a warm bath and  a short story in bed. These are all predictable and hopefully calming activities. It works the same for you as an adult, too. Your routine should start about an hour before bed and should be simple, calming, and consistent.

We’ve put together our best tips for creating a bedtime routine:

Create an environment for sleep

Make sure your bedroom is dark enough, quiet, and clean. Basically, you want it to be comfortable and inviting for sleep.

  • Get acclimated: Set the temperature of your room or house to around 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit. When you are too hot or too cold, the body has a hard time being able to drift into sleep.
  • Limit screen time: Blue light is emitted from screens and signals the brain to be awake. Try shutting down screens 30 minutes before bedtime to help your brain move into sleep mode.
  • Set the lighting of your room: Dimming the lights (not just in the bedroom) 30-45 minutes before bed helps the brain and body to transition into sleep mode.
  • Cool down

Cooling down of the body is an important part of falling asleep. A major signal to the brain that it’s time to sleep is when the body’s core temp is lowered by one(ish) degree. When you take a hot shower, your body directs blood flow towards your limbs to dump that heat as to not get overheated. This heat dumping is what cools the body.

Prepare

After you have finessed your bedroom into just the right environment for some good sleep, start getting yourself ready: change your clothes and go through your bathroom routine (skin care, brush teeth, and other bathroom things). Then, move onto your bedtime ritual; the calming activity you will do before closing your eyes.

Wind down

Listen to calming music or nature sounds while you are getting ready for bed. Create your to-do list for next day (unless this will stress you out). Read. Pray or meditate. Spend 5-10 minutes engaging in some activity that feels calming to you!

Stay consistent

No matter what your bedtime routine ends up looking like, the most important thing about it is staying on schedule. Parents try to keep their kiddos on a schedule so that they have a solid routine and no one loses their minds. This piece is just as important for you now, only you have to set it, and respect it, for yourself.

Going to sleep and waking at the same time each day is crucial for setting your circadian rhythm into a routine of signaling sleep and waking. (Weekends too, but we understand sleeping in is equally valuable for many people). Being consistent with this will also improve the quality of your sleep.

To help you stay consistent, set a gentle alarm to signal it being time to start your bedtime routine. Give yourself a good hour to complete it so you aren’t rushed or end up pushing back your bedtime.

Adjust

All you need to do is start! Then, adjust as you go along to find your groove. Like your room to be cold? Turn down the temp before hopping in bed or turning on your fan to start cooling it down. Don’t like it too quiet? Try a sound machine or finding a white noise or rain sounds, playlist on your preferred music app. Channel your inner child and create yourself the little bedtime routine that works for you!

Author: Christine Dykema