Sleep preferences are as abundant and varied as coffee preferences. That’s why you’ll see four different kinds of milk, six types of sweetener, and three flavored powders on the counter at most modern coffee shops—and why companies like Reverie offer an almost infinite level of customization for our Sleep Systems.
But your sleep preferences extend beyond the more obvious factors, like mattress firmness or sheet fabric, and into the question of what you do before you fall asleep. Indeed, what you do in the hours before bed is as unique as any other preference.
“Some bedtime habits set you up for a good night’s sleep…and some for a very poor one.”
However, unlike the other preferences, there is a right and a wrong way to prepare yourself for sleep. Well, sort of—sure, the details may vary from person to person, but the fact is that some bedtime routines set you up for a good night’s sleep…and some for a very poor one.
To help make sure it’s the former, and not the latter, we’ve compiled the 10 essential elements of a healthy, effective bedtime routine. Adjust to your taste.
Set a cut-off for caffeine.
Stimulants too late in the day can seriously derail your efforts to hit the hay at a reasonable hour. It also has a nasty half-life that leaves it in your system for hours after consumption. As a best practice, avoid having any caffeine after 2 p.m. or 3 p.m. to ensure the sweetest slumber.
Time your dinner.
We know, sometimes the evening can get away from you, and you find yourself eating dinner right before you’re ready to turn in. Though this happens from time to time, do your best to avoid eating anything heavy within three hours of bed. Having all that food to digest can disrupt your sleep throughout the night.
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Work out wisely.
Though exercise can significantly improve your sleep quality, hitting the gym too late in the day can have the opposite effect. Evening exercise raises your core body temperature and this can interfere with your body's natural "go to sleep" mechanisms. Try to leave three to four hours between your sweat sesh and sleep, or your risk being too amped to doze off.
Watch your water.
Drink too little at night, and you risk waking up dehydrated in the middle of the night; drink too much, and 3 AM bathroom visits will be all too familiar. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, try tapering off your liquid consumption close to bedtime.
Take a bath.
Okay, a shower works too. Heating up your body and then rapidly cooling it when you get out helps lower your temperature, which is conducive to sleep.
Once you’ve cooled your body, you’ll also want to chill your mind. This means no work (or stressful conversations) within two hours of bed. Instead, try restful activities like reading or meditating.
Skip the screens.
The blue light emitted by your phone, laptop, tablet, or TV has been proven to disrupt circadian rhythms. Avoid this by ending screen time one hour before bed.
Create a sleep sanctuary.
Cultivate the perfect environment for sleep: cool, dark, quiet, and comfortable.
Keep regular sleep and wake times.
Keeping a regular sleep schedule makes it much easier to fall asleep (and wake up). This might be the single-most important thing you can do for great sleep hygiene.
Make the bedroom about the bed.
Your bedroom should be a place where you do two things: sleep and have sex. Leave the other activities (especially work) for the other rooms in the house.
Thinking about upgrading your bedtime routine?
Learn how a bed with a massage feature might be just the ticket.