The Most Helpful Bedtime Routine Habits

If you find it difficult to get a good night's slumber, you are not alone. Studies show that 1 in 3 adults don't rest enough, according to the CDC. And a lack of sleep, or a poor quality sleep, is even more serious than one might think. In fact, it's linked to a number of diseases and illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

Contrary to a bad night's sleep, a good night's sleep (about 7-8 hours regularly) has many benefits for us. The brain is sharper, which can improve memory, not to mention you will be in a great mood. Good sleep can also help improve heart health drastically because the heart and blood vessels are given a chance to relax, which helps to keep blood pressure down. Getting regular, adequate sleep keeps the immune system performing at its peak and helps to keep body your weight in check, by keeping hormones in check (via WebMD). 

Therefore, if you want to keep your body working at the optimal level, good sleep hygiene is imperative, per Sleep Foundation. One of the most important things you can do to promote this is having a consistent nighttime routine — one that begins at least one hour before you hit the sheets, according to Good Housekeeping

Keep reading for some helpful suggestions on building a solid bedtime routine.

Create a set wake-up and bedtime schedule

Getting a good night's sleep is one thing, but getting a good night's sleep EVERY night requires some discipline. First thing you're going to want to do is set up a regular sleep schedule, according to Sleep Foundation. This requires having a fixed wake-up and bedtime, regardless of if it's a weekday or a weekend (yup, that means no more sleeping in until noon on Sundays). Next thing you should try to do is prioritize sleep over working late, studying, socializing, or even exercising (because when you really think about it, how can you really perform well at any of those things without regular adequate sleep)? Lastly, if you have to make a shift in your sleep schedule, try doing it in increments as to let your body slowly adjust to changes in your rhythmic sleep cycle.

Another important factor to consider for your sleep schedule is napping. Naps can help you regain energy during the day. Taking 1-2 naps a week has even been proven to be beneficial for cardiovascular health (via Medical News Today). However, naps can be detrimental to your sleep schedule at night. So, if you are an avid napper, try taking shorter naps and only during the early afternoon (via Sleep Foundation).

Try doing relaxing activities before bed

Now that you've established a sleep schedule, you can focus on building a bedtime routine. A nightly routine will help you sleep better, unwind, and focus on self-care, which studies have shown is vital for both mental and physical health (via the National Institute of Mental Health). "In an hour to hour and a half prior to bedtime, the golden rule is do something that's relaxing for the body and calming for the mind," Britney Blair, PsyD, CBSM, AASECT, a licensed clinical psychologist and board-certified behavioral sleep medicine specialist, told Good Housekeeping

The absolute first thing you should do is put away your phone, tablet, and laptop, as the blue light that is emitted from the screens mess with our body's melatonin production, thus disrupting our sleep schedule. If it's necessary for you to use your phone at night, try shifting your device to "night mode" or dimming down the brightness, according to Good Housekeeping. Next, you'll want to partake in an activity that you find relaxing, such as reading, taking a hot bad, or drinking a hot cup of tea (you can even do all three at once)!

Activities that help calm your mind such as meditating, journaling, or listening to music can also enable you to get a good night's sleep (via Healthline). Furthermore, you might benefit from aromatherapy as certain scents can help to promote an environment of relaxation (via Good Housekeeping).