How To Set A Night-Time Routine To Improve Your Sleeping Habits
Sleep is as vital as regular exercise and a balanced diet. Getting a nice and good amount of sleep not only helps you to stay productive during the day but also helps you to have better concentration and to lose some kilograms. However, a group of professionals found that 66% of adults in the entire world are having sleep deprivation. In other words, they are unable to achieve a recommended amount of sleep each night. While the remaining adults do not face any difficulty to fall asleep, we can’t say that we aren’t currently in the middle of the ‘sleep deprivation’ epidemic.
For me that falls in the 66% group, I found that sleep is a voluntary habitual routine that we have to develop by ourselves. I lose a good quality of sleep when I’m somehow unable to control it due to inconsistent sleeping habits that I developed unhealthily. A personalized night-time routine can help us get more beauty sleep, allowing us to wake up refreshed and ready to start the day. So starting from today, let’s develop a more healthy night-time routine to improve our sleeping habits.
1. Avoid technology one hour before bedtime
We have to admit, this is by far the most difficult thing to do. However, it is also the most crucial. I realize that even if I get into bed as early as 10pm, I end up falling asleep at midnight when I finally put my phone away after scrolling through Instagram and TikTok for hours on end. Now, can you imagine how good my sleep would be if I actually went to sleep at 10pm without any distractions?
An article published by the Harvard Health Letter mentioned that the blue light emitted by our phones, laptops, or TVs are especially disruptive and prevent us from falling asleep faster. If you find it extremely hard to sleep without using your phone, try replacing it by reading a book or listening to some relaxing podcasts. Get Sleepy, Nothing Much Happens, Sleep Whispers and Slow Radio are some of my favourites and you guys should give it a try.
2. Cut off caffeine after 3 PM
A dietician, Natalie Olsen has reviewed for Medical News Today that caffeine stays in our body for up to five hours. Thus, consuming it in the evening will only make it more difficult for you to sleep early. I believe that most of us can’t start the day properly without our morning coffee, right? However, we can’t end our day earlier either if we drink our second cup of coffee after 3pm. If you’re ready to cut back on caffeine, it’s best not to do it too drastically. That could leave you tired, groggy, foggy-brained, and with a headache.
To stay refreshed throughout the day, I highly suggest replacing coffee with green tea. According to nutritionist Brooke Alpert, an eight-ounce cup of green tea usually contains between seven and 84mg of caffeine, compared to a regular cup of coffee which has around 70 to 140mg. Green tea might contain less caffeine than coffee but it should be just enough to produce similar effects.
If you’re not a fan of the unique taste of green tea, you can also try kombucha. Kombucha is a sweet and delicious fizzy drink, made by fermenting tea with a special mixture of bacteria and yeast with a few choices of flavours to choose from. Although kombucha isn’t as effective as coffee and green tea, it’s also considered as a caffeinated beverage with around two to 25mg of caffeine.
3. Practice gratitude journaling
There were times when I couldn’t fall asleep because there were many negative thoughts in my mind. I spent time overthinking about the smallest mistakes I made during the day, about my future, and about things that haven’t even happened yet. After I came across a video on how to eliminate constant negative thoughts, I bought a small notebook and kept it on my nightstand.
Every night before I sleep, I jot down every gratitude of the day. It could even be about the smallest thing. I wrote about how grateful I was for being able to wake up early to do my chores, for a random stranger who helped me to hold the elevator doors, and for managing to have a 10-minute call with my mom. I was surprised at how serene my mind became after doing that for two consecutive weeks. All those gloomy thoughts slowly disappeared as my mind became more positive. Before I knew it, I was finally able to sleep peacefully as I looked forward to tomorrow.
4. Do your skincare routine
Turns out that there’s an actual reason it’s called beauty sleep! A soothing moisturizer will give the nourishment that your skin needs throughout the night. Nothing beats the calm feeling of going to bed with your skin fully rejuvenated with a good-quality night cream and smooth body lotion. If you don’t have a nighttime skincare routine, consider starting one as it not only leads to healthier skin but also helps you to relax and feel more pampered before bedtime.
5. Set the mood
Instead of simply switching the lights off and crawling under the blankets, try to set the desired mood of your environment before bedtime. For me, I love to dim the lights and use a cute night lamp that allows me to adjust to the different brightness. Avoid using white light, and if you sleep better in total darkness, just turn everything off.
Sleeping on a clean bedsheet with scented candles and comfy pyjamas helps me fall faster into a deep sleep too! Sometimes, I like to put on some lo-fi music as well, and I can already feel myself sinking deeper into the atmosphere. Setting the mood is very important, especially if you’re just starting a new night-time routine and you find it difficult to adjust.
6. Use pillow mist
Amy Galper, the executive director of the New York Institute of Aromatherapy explains that aromas can create a physiological response that causes our body to produce hormones including melatonin; a hormone that promotes restful sleep. The value of using scented products before sleep is to trigger a habit and as a cue to get our body and mind to associate a specific scent with falling asleep. With that theory in mind, I tried using a pillow mist in hopes that it will help with my sleeping cycle. Surprisingly, it somehow worked. Some of my favourite pillow mists are the Deep Sleep Pillow Spray by This Works that I bought from Sephora and the Cocon de Sérénité Relaxing Pillow Mist by L’Occitane. You can also get a more pocket-friendly version from any Bath & Body Works stores as they’re available in different kinds of scents!
7. Drink a warm beverage
Chamomile tea is a great alternative to warm milk, especially for those who are lactose intolerant. Both milk and chamomile tea are among the traditional remedies that are recommended by experts for those who suffer from insomnia. Chamomile is very calming and soothing for the stomach and is caffeine-free. In my case, I like to switch between chamomile and warm milk, just to avoid drinking the same thing over and over again. Anyhow, both of them still gave the same effect that I desired.
Other alternatives that you can try are peppermint tea, lemon balm tea, and lavender tea. At first, I thought peppermint tea only helps with a bloated tummy, but it turns out that warm peppermint tea at night can also aid with better sleep. As for lemon balm tea, the minty taste is able to calm our minds and reduce anxiety. Meanwhile, Ryan Fiorenzi, a certified sleeping coach mentioned that the essential oils produced from the lavender plant also have the same ability in reducing anxiety and stress, in which elevated levels of these could lead to insomnia. Hence, consuming lavender tea regularly can help with better sleep quality.
8. Use sleeping apps
There are plenty of beneficial apps that could help you get better sleep. If you find it especially difficult to restrain from using your phone before bedtime, try using SleepTown. SleepTown is an app that enables you to construct ‘rare buildings’ during your bedtime by maintaining fixed sleeping hours every day. Once you use your phone during the ‘construction’ time, your building will get destroyed. Another app that you can consider is Headspace. Headspace is a meditation app with a lot of functionalities. One example of this is their audio experience feature, which helps you to visualize a calming scene, like a slow-moving train or a walk in the garden. Another sleeping app that I use regularly is Apple Health. It allows me to track and gather more insight into my sleeping schedule and determine if I have been sleeping sufficiently throughout the week.
If a new night-time routine doesn’t have much effect on your sleep quality, consider talking to your healthcare provider to make sure there aren’t any underlying health issues contributing to your sleep difficulties. Getting yourself into the right headspace to sink into your pillows and to quiet your mind isn’t an easy task. Different methods work for different people! Either way, the process of finding a suitable night-time routine will be worth it as you slowly adjust to it.
Goodnight and sleep tight!