A consistent sleep schedule makes all the difference in how you feel mentally and physically. However, sticking to the same sleep and wake times proves tricky for many, especially on the weekends.
Your circadian rhythm regulates your sleep-wake cycle, helping you feel tired at the same time every 24 hours.
That said, when you stay up several hours later than usual, you throw off this rhythm, causing grogginess and making it difficult to get back on track.
The hour before bedtime is a crucial time that makes or breaks your ability to relax and wind down. Establishing a routine that you can follow each night is the first step toward correcting and maintaining good sleep habits.
We’ve gathered seven things to do in the hour before bedtime that are essential to any evening routinechecklist, whether it’s a weekday or the weekend.
1. Take a Warm Bath or Shower
As your body prepares for sleep, various hormonal changes take place.
Melatonin, a hormone released by the pineal gland in the brain, helps to prepare you for sleep. As melatonin production rises, your core body temperature decreases and you begin to feel sleepy.
Research showsthat recreating this drop in body temperature can trigger the same sleepy feelings.
An evening bath or shower that is between 104 and 108.5 degrees Fahrenheit is not only proven to improve sleep quality – it helps you fall asleep faster.
The warm water heats up your body temperature at first, followed by a rapid drop as the water evaporates, helping you feel relaxed.
Another technique to generate relaxation on your evening routine checklist? Meditation.
If you can’t sleep, lying there worrying about it isn’t going to help! In fact, the stress might actually make it even harder to relax.
Regular mindfulness practices like yoga or meditation are proven toimprove your sleep quality. These activities help to manage our thoughts and emotions, enabling the onset of sleep.
Meditation has additional benefits that exceed improved sleep, including reduced anxiety and boosted memory.
The key to mindfulness meditation is to observe your thoughts without judging them.
Moreover, finding meditations that work for you doesn’t have to be difficult. Guided meditations and visualization exercises can be found for free online or with the use of many smartphone apps.
Although you may have to use your smartphone to practice meditation before bed, be careful to limit your exposure to blue light emitted by electronics in the process.
3. Limit Blue Light Exposure
Bright light throws off our circadian rhythm, tricking the body into thinking it’s daytime even though it may be the middle of the night.
Our electronics emit something called blue light. Blue wavelengths, although energy-efficient, are disruptive at night. In fact, the light our electronics emit suppresses melatonin production.
Some researcheven suggests a link between nighttime exposure to bright light and diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
The best way to keep blue light from disrupting your sleep schedule is to wear blue-light blocking glasses and avoid using electronics one to two hours before bedtime.
Your lightbulbs matter, too. Get a lamp that doesn’t emit blue light or use natural lighting like a candle (just be sure to put it out before you fall asleep).
4. Watch What You Eat and Drink Before Bed
If you’re eating and drinking sleep-disrupting substances, such as caffeine, or eating a heavy dinner, you’re not allowing your body to fully rest.
Digesting big meals or ingesting stimulants like coffee or tea directly affects your sleep quality. If you’re feeling peckish at night, sticking to lighter foods that promote sleep is best.
Alcohol and caffeine are a no-go, while foods like turkey, warm milk, or cheese can inhibit sleep thanks to the tryptophan in them. Tryptophan is the precursor to sleep-boosting melatonin.
Bananas, chamomile, and almonds are great sources of serotonin and magnesium, which are also perfect for promoting sleep.
Aside from what you choose to eat and drink, stretching is another sleep-promoting activity that is essential for any evening routine checklist.
5. Stretch Your Body
We spend a large portion of our days hunched over. Many of us work from a computer or sit in stances that compromise our posture.
Gentle stretching before bed can improve sleep quality, the duration of our sleep, and our overall health.
Additionally, it’s a perfect alternative to intense exercise before bed, which has a stimulating effect that keeps the body and mind awake.
Quick, in-bed stretches are an effective option for everyone, regardless of your mobility level.
For example, placing your arms out with your palms facing down on the mattress. Turn your hips and top leg over to one side. Then, switch to the opposing side to stretch your lower back on both sides.
Hold each stretch for at least four or five breaths.
Once you’ve stretched out, try reading a book to relax even further.
6. Read a Book
Many successful people claim to read before bed.
Reading not only helps us gain knowledge, but it also helps us to de-stress and escape our reality.
Science backs up the claim that reading promotes sleep, too. Research provesthat reading before bed reduces stress even more than taking a walk or drinking a calming tea.
In fact, reading for just a few minutes lowers stress levels significantly since it helps to take our minds off of our busy daily schedules and lives.
However, as we mentioned above, reading on an electronic device before bed has the opposite effect due to blue light. Grab your favorite physical book and drift into another world before bed.
As you read, you can even practice certain sleep-promoting breathing exercises to achieve ultimate relaxation.
7. Practice Breathing Exercises and Tape Your Mouth Shut
Mouth breathing places the body in a stressed stateof fight or flight, while nasal breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps us to rest and digest while lowering our body temperature.
Alternate nostril breathing, an ancient form of breathwork commonly used in yoga, helps to balance the body, lower blood pressure, and reduce anxiety and depression.
To practice this exercise, sit in a position where you can lengthen your spine with relaxed shoulders.
Bring your right hand up to your nose, closing the right nostril
Exhale through the left nostril for at least four seconds
Release the right nostril and close the left nostril, inhaling from the right nostril for four seconds
Exhale through the right nostril for at least four seconds
Close the right nostril and inhale from the left nostril for four seconds
Repeat the full process at least two times
Once you’ve completed this process, place mouth tape over your lips to continue to nasal breathe as you sleep.
This prevents mouth breathing, snoring, sleep apnea, dry mouth upon waking, grogginess, cavities, and more.
Don’t just use any tape, though. SomniFix Mouth Strips feature a gel-like adhesive that offers the most comfortable fit on the market.
Furthermore, our strips are hypoallergenic and free of both gluten and latex, making them the perfect solution for any skin type.
Add SomniFix to your evening routine checklist for your best sleep and airway health yet!
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