Did you know that not getting enough sleep puts you at risk of diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart-related issues, and more? Still a global sleep survey carried out by Philips revealed that 62% of adults feel like they don’t sleep well enough. There has been a drastic shift in sleeping routines and habits over the years, thanks to the influx of smartphones and OTT platforms. Not just that, we are all trying to keep up with the endless stressors of life and often forget to keep track of what we do before going to sleep.
Our habits affect our sleeping patterns. There are some habits that are beneficial while others can lead to disturbed sleep or in some cases, no sleep at all. To help you understand how you can develop a good sleeping routine, here is a list of Dos and Don’ts before going to bed.
What You Should Do Before Going to Sleep
If you are constantly wondering, how to get sleep or improve sleep, here are some practical tips that you will find helpful:
- Include Tryptophan-rich foods in your dinner: Tryptophan is a type of amino acid that regulates the production of many neurotransmitters and hormones, including melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for maintaining your sleep cycle and helps you fall asleep at night. Foods like chicken, egg whites, pumpkin seeds, fish, milk, and cheese are rich in tryptophan and can induce good sleep.
- Set a reminder an hour before bedtime: Of course, you don’t ‘forget’ to fall asleep. However, you can forget to go to sleep at the same time every day. Setting an alarm for an hour before you want to go to bed helps you unwind and maintain a consistent sleep routine. This is only necessary before going to sleep when you have not developed the habit yet. In a few days, you will notice that your body automatically gets used to the routine and tells you that it is time for you to hit the sack.
- Make sure you have a cosy sleeping place: Clean up the space that you are going to sleep in before going to bed. Make sure that the room is warm and dark. Dimming the lights before sleeping helps you fall asleep faster.
- Stretch and breathe: A few stretches before bed are the answer to the question, how to get sleep. Stretches are known to relax the body instead of stimulating it like any other form of exercise. Relaxing your muscles is a great way to unwind and start the process of resting. Stretches also release endorphins or happy hormones that help you fall asleep faster. This, combined with a few deep breathing exercises is perfect to bring your mind to a calmer state, letting you sleep better.
- Take a warm bath: Just like stretches, a warm bath before going to bed relaxes the muscles. Studies have shown that a hot bath about an hour before sleep lowers the core temperature. This signals your body that it is time to sleep.
- Switch your devices to night mode: About three to four hours before going to sleep, it is a good idea to turn on the night mode on your devices. Ideally, you must turn your devices off completely at least two hours before you sleep. However, if it is unavoidable, night mode reduces the strain on your eyes.
- Meditate for a few minutes: We are so often consumed by our thoughts that it is difficult to fall asleep. Meditation helps you calm your mind down and prevent thoughts that cause anxiety and stress, thereby hampering your sleep. Mindfulness meditation sets a purpose for the practice. It helps you become more aware of the things that you are experiencing and cope with them easily.
- Drink a relaxing tea: Herbal teas like chamomile have been used as a remedy for poor sleep. These teas calm your nerves and also help improve the levels of sleep-inducing hormones. More importantly, they reduce stress-causing hormones which makes it easier to fall asleep.
- Journaling helps: If you begin to feel restless before going to bed, journaling is quite useful. It helps you put your thoughts on paper and get them out of your mind. It is a great way to also set an intention for the following day. The latter is a powerful habit that is known to help you sleep and also wake up feeling invigorated.
What You Should Avoid Before Going to Sleep
There are some common habits that most of us practice before going to bed. Avoiding them takes some practice but ensures a lifetime of benefits:
- Do not exercise vigorously close to your bedtime: When reading about how to get sleep, you may have come across the importance of physical activity in helping you sleep. Now, what matters most is when you exercise. If you indulge in vigorous exercise before going to sleep, you will notice that it is harder to fall asleep. This is because you are mentally stimulated after a workout, making it harder to relax.
- Do not consume caffeinated drinks: The job of caffeine is known to all of us. It is meant to keep us awake. Naturally, it is a bad choice to consume caffeinated beverages before going to bed. This includes sodas, coffee, energy drinks, etc that contain a good amount of caffeine.
- Do not eat food that is spicy and heavy: Spicy food or heavy food is known to increase the core temperature of the body. This is because the body needs to work hard and burn calories to digest it. While most of us experience sleepiness after a heavy meal, if you notice closely, you don’t feel as well rested. This is because your body is actually in overdrive. Spicy and heavy food may also cause indigestion which is one of the primary reasons for poor sleep.
- No phones and devices at least 2 hours before bedtime: We have been told several times over that the blue light from the screen disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm. This means you will find it harder to fall asleep as your brain does not realize that it is time to sleep. Additionally, there is so much content in the palm of our hands today that you are overstimulated. As a result, relaxing your mind becomes much harder.
- Do not lay awake in bed for more than 15 minutes: If you do go to bed on time but notice that you are unable to fall asleep, it is a good idea to try some calming activity. Take a walk or read a book instead of just laying awake in bed and scrolling through your phone.
- Do not use alcohol as a sleeping aid: Many people believe that a drink before going to sleep will help them sleep better. You may fall asleep faster but consuming alcohol is known to disturb the REM stage of your sleep cycle. This is when you experience the deepest sleep. As a result, you wake up feeling tired and uneasy.
- Avoid too many fluids before you go to bed: Going to bed with a full bladder will disturb your sleep. Waking up many times through the night does not let you rest well. Make sure that you drink not more than a cup of tea or a few sips of water before sleeping.
There is an Irish proverb that states that “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in a doctor’s book”. Good sleep is the best preventative measure that one can take against a myriad of health issues. It is also the best way to overcome existing ones. So, make sure that you are mindful of your habits before going to sleep.
Being well-rested should never be underestimated. It helps you think better, deal with stress better, and also feel healthier. One of the keys to a happy and successful life, as ancient wisdom reveals, is as simple as a good night’s sleep.