Now that the kids are back to school and the family schedule has settled down you may find that members of the family are struggling to get the sleep they need. Since lack of sleep can impact everything from school performance to work productivity to how well our immune system protects us from illness, it is important that everyone is getting the sleep they need. One of the best ways to ensure you are getting enough sleep every night is to set up a bedtime routine and then follow that routine every night.
Creating a consistent bedtime routine is easy, just follow these steps.
1. Determine how much sleep you need
The first thing you need to do is determine how much sleep you need. The amount of sleep each person needs will vary depending on their age and other factors. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep but you can figure out how much sleep you with a simple test. Set aside a couple of days where you don’t need to get up at a specific time and allow yourself to sleep until you wake up naturally. Average the amount of time you sleep each night over those days to get an idea of how much sleep you generally need at night.
2. Set a bedtime
Once you know how much sleep you need it is easy to figure out what time you need to go to bed. Start by figuring out what time you need to get up in the morning on the earliest morning you have and then back track. Remember, one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your sleep is to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This is why you need to use the earliest morning as your start time.
3. Plan how you will get ready for bed
When we think about a bedtime routine we generally think of going through a series of steps to get a small child ready for bed. But we can benefit from the same type of routine. The goal is to gradually get your body ready for sleep while avoiding activities that might prevent you from falling asleep. For adults this means choosing relaxing activities over active ones and foregoing electronic devices. In order to help your body get ready to sleep, you should include the following in your routine:
- A cutoff time for electronics. The blu-ish light emitted by most electronic devices like computers and televisions can trick the body into believing it is not nighttime. This can disrupt the hormonal changes that make falling asleep possible. It is best to avoid these devices in the hour or so before bed.
- Activities that relax you. While exercising does help you sleep, it can actually keep you up if you do it too close to bed time. Choose things like reading, yoga, or meditation to fill the time before bed so that you can fall asleep quickly and easily.