We’ve all been there: the evening is winding down, you’re finishing just one more show before you get ready to sleep. You do your nighttime routine, get comfortable, and once you get into bed, suddenly you can’t sleep. You’re thinking about what happened today, what you need to do tomorrow, did you remember to do this task or that chore, or you try to pass the time on your phone. Relaxing before bed can be difficult at best, but it doesn’t have to be a battle every night. We understand it can be hard (or nearly impossible) to shut your brain off before falling asleep but getting into a stable routine can help keep those ruminating thoughts at bay. Dr. Lawrence Epstein, chief medical officer of Sleep HealthCenters and professor of medicine at Harvard explains, “Our body craves routine and likes to know what’s coming.” A wind-down routine will help signal your body that daytime activities are over and it’s time to sleep.
So how do you establish a nighttime routine? The answer is both simple and complicated: consistency. A large part of a successful routine is sticking to it. Find out what works best for you and your body will eventually learn and associate your wind-down activities with relaxation. Your brain will kickstart melatonin production, and you’ll be fast asleep before you know it. Melatonin is a hormone your brain produces that signals your body when it’s time to go to sleep or wake up. Your body usually makes more melatonin in the evening in response to lower light levels, causing you to feel tired at night. We have some tips to help you establish a wind-down routine that will work for you and hopefully help you sleep better:
No matter your routine, alleviating anxious or worrisome thoughts should be your priority. Good quality sleep will come. It’s especially important to have boundaries between work and home if you’re working from home. Sleep specialist Stephanie Silberman, Ph.D explains, “It’s very hard to shut down your brain or quiet anxious or worrying thoughts when you’re on the go before bedtime. You want to separate your day from nighttime.” If you find that you’re still have trouble with anxious thoughts prior to bedtime, talking to a mental health professional may help you figure out strategies to cope. High quality sleep will help improve your mood and cognition throughout the day, so #BeTheDifference for yourself by investing in a routine that works for you.
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