Tuesday Tip: Create a Nighttime Routine for the Last Hour Before Bed to Get a Great Night’s Sleep
By Yehudit Garmaise
Those who struggle to fall asleep, struggle to get out of bed in the morning, or regularly get headaches or migraines can create new practices in the last hour before bedtime to drift off to sleep easily and quickly and wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
“Your goal is to create a habit of falling asleep quickly, and habits are built on reliable cues,” Michael Grandner, Ph.D., the director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, told medium.com. “If you’re checking email, shopping online, or doing other things that you also tend to do during the day, your brain and body aren’t getting any obvious sleep cues. That’s bad. Your pre-bed hour should be distinct from the rest of your day.
Establish set bedtimes and wake times, and stick to them: Once you turn off the lights, for instance, at 11 pm every night and wake every morning at 6 am, your body will acclimate and prepare to sleep and awaken at those times.
Out of sight, out of mind. Before bed: Clear the clutter. Put dirty clothing in a hamper and put clean clothes away. File or store in another room: papers, reminders of work, and other daytime activities, so you cannot see them when you are trying to relax.
Create a relaxing and attractive place to sleep: Make sure your bedding is clean, comfortable, and appealing. Work to make your bedroom a minimalist, neat, quiet, dark, and relaxing space.
Create a nighttime routine one hour before bed that is distinct from the rest of the day: Take a hot shower or bath, followed by relaxing in a somewhat cool, lamp-lit room while reading something that is not stressful, scary, or anxiety-provoking, Chris Winter, MD, a neurologist and sleep specialist advised on medium.com.
At least one hour before bed: Turn off phones and laptops, and put them away while you charge them for the night. Electronic devices emit blue light that decreases users’ natural feeling of drowsiness at night by blocking a hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy,” reported webmd.com.
In addition, online content can spike stress hormones, such as cortisol, that are hard to fight when trying to settle down. New stories, texting friends, and checking work emails can provide stressful “energy rushes” that can be hard to fight while trying to relax.
Earlier in the day or night, get in at least 20 minutes of exercise several times a week: Brisk walks and 20 to 30 minutes on exercise bikes, elliptical machines, or treadmills are great ways to provide relaxation and fitness: just not in the last hour before bed, when exercise can keep us up. Light stretching, however, before bed can be relaxing.
Keep a physical book with light, upbeat, or inspiring content near your nightstand to read for a bit before turning off the lights. For fun, coordinate your reading with friends and get together once a month for book clubs on Zoom or in-person to discuss what you are reading.
If you worry: Keep a pad and paper on your night table to jot down your to-do list, any ideas that you don’t want to forget for the next day, or anything that might be weighing on you. Remind yourself, “This too shall pass,” which King Shlomo inscribed on a ring.
Write down or think about five things for which you were grateful that day: Instead of worrying, try to drift off to sleep, naming a few brachos that you experienced that day.
Breathe deeply: in and out four or five times, as you think about one phrase, such as, “I trust Hashem always,” or a good thing you accomplished that day.
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