It’s widely acknowledged that sleep is important. After all, it’s while we sleep that our brains are able to file away the knowledge we have acquired throughout the day and our bodies are able to rest and recuperate.
As well as getting enough sleep, it’s important that we stick to a sleep routine so that we are sleeping for the same period of time and at the same time each night. Why is that and what can we do to promote a healthy sleep routine?
Why is sleep routine important?
The main reason that a sleep routine is important is that it helps to improve the quality of our sleep. By sticking to a sleep routine, you are essentially training your body and mind to recognize the times when it should be sleeping, and the times when it should be awake. Just as we train babies and toddlers to create a sleep routine to improve their sleep quality, so should we be doing this for ourselves as adults!
To begin with, creating a sleep routine can be quite difficult. Just because you have decided that you want to be asleep by 10.30 each night, doesn’t mean that you will be able to fall asleep at that time. However, there are a few things that you can do to help create a sleep routine for yourself.
Be mindful of stimulants
You might not be surprised to learn that drinking caffeinated drinks right up until bedtime is not good for a restful night’s sleep!
In fact, it’s recommended that you stop consuming caffeine four to six hours prior to when you want to go to sleep as it can take that long for it to get out of your system.
Alcohol also doesn’t help you to get a good night’s sleep, because it dehydrates you and prevents you from going into REM sleep. Some people also find that eating too soon before bed, or even drinking water, can keep them awake because the digestive process means that the brain cannot completely shut down.
Put aside an hour before bed for relaxing
It’s impossible to fall asleep when you’re feeling stressed, so part of your sleep routine should be making time to wind down before the time you actually want to be asleep.
A lot of people enjoy reading in bed for relaxation (although some sleep specialists think that this isn’t actually a good idea, so it’s worth bearing in mind what works for you). If you like to read in bed, make sure that you don’t get woken up with a twinge in your neck or back by ensuring you are properly supported. The best pillow for reading in bed is a husband pillow that fully supports your back and allows you to sit upright.
Minimize screen time before bed
If you like to play on your phone or laptop before bed, you will find that stopping this improves the quality of your sleep. The blue light that is emitted by cell phones stops your brain from producing melatonin, which is the hormone that controls your sleep cycle (circadian rhythm). This means that you will find it more difficult to fall asleep and wake up again the next day.