Sleep is one of the most important things in life. After all, you spend over 229,961 hours asleep in your lifetime. That’s 9852 days, 1407 weeks, 324 months, or 27 years. It affects every part of your day – wake up drowsy and you’ll be like a sloth all day, or get your full night’s sleep and you’ll be ready to attack the world. The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours asleep and if you are really honest with yourself, you’re probably not getting enough of it. Luckily, making just a few small changes to your routine can dramatically improve your sleep, and this will help you feel much more refreshed in the morning.
Having a sleep routine helps to maintain your body clock, which in turn helps you to fall asleep and wake up more easily. Embracing your body’s natural rhythms will dramatically improve your lifestyle.
We’ve put together the ultimate routine to make sure you get a great night’s sleep.
The ultimate routine
By having a regular sleep routine it is possible to eliminate a host of common sleeping issues. We have compiled the best tips to help you make sure that you are getting the best sleep possible.
1. Maintain a regular sleep-wake schedule
You should try to go to sleep at roughly the same time every night, and wake up at roughly the same time every morning. You should try to maintain this even on the weekend, as tempting as it is to sleep in for hours, you shouldn’t have a lie-in that lasts for more than 20-30 minutes.
2. Make your bedroom a comfortable place to sleep
You need to make your bed the most comfortable place you can sleep. No more having a quick snooze on the couch, you’ll want to be in your bed full time. First of all, you will need to buy a new mattress, if you don’t have a comfortable one already. Find the mattress that suits you, a mattress that allows you to sink into a natural and deep sleep.
Next, you will need to choose the right bedding. Your pillows, your bedding and your duvet will all be choices you have to make.
Think about how you want your bedroom to smell – lavender sprays are becoming increasing popular up and down the country, or small lavender bags placed under the pillow also do the job.
Finally, keep electronics out of the bedroom. The light from the screens can disturb sleep patterns and keep you awake.
3. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other chemicals that interfere with sleep
You probably consume a huge amount of caffeine every day, even if you don’t notice it – it is not just in coffee and tea, it also appears in chocolate, soft drinks and drugs (cold & flu tablets are normally stuffed with it). It’s a natural stimulant which can cause insomnia, and has a half-life of roughly 5 – 6 hours (that is the time it takes for your body to get rid of half the caffeine), so consuming a load of it will keep you up long past your bedtime.
Alcohol affects your sleep? Sounds crazy right? You probably feel like you could doze off after a drink or two, but regular alcohol consumption affects the quality of your sleep. Essentially, it causes you to spend less time in a deep sleep and leaves you feeling tired the next day no matter how long you stay in bed.
Meanwhile, smoking upsets your natural circadian rhythm by altering your clock genes. This can cause depression, anxiety and various mood disorders. It also causes you to wake up more frequently during the night.
4. Establish a calming pre-sleep routine
A good night’s sleep starts long before you actually get into bed. About 90 minutes before you go to sleep, you should start your routine. First of all, start putting away your electronics and don’t look at them. If possible, leave your phone outside of your bedroom altogether. You should also stop eating 2 or 3 hours before your bedtime, and don’t do exercise too close to you going to sleep – exercise will keep you wired, way past how long you want to.
5. Go to sleep when you’re truly tired
This is a short one but it is some of the best advice we have heard – go to sleep when you’re tired. If you’re tired before your bed time, head to bed.
6. Limit your light exposure at the evening
Use light to your advantage by getting loads during the day, and gradually limit your exposure to it as the evening progresses. Late in the day you probably don’t need all of the lights in your house on so start setting them to low.
7. Special clothes for sleep
Don’t hang around your house in your pyjamas. Instead, only put them on as you are going to bed as this will subconsciously turn your mind to sleep.
How to stick to a night routine
Sticking to your new night routine is your new key to a good night’s rest. To do this, you need to incorporate some new bedtime rituals – do some low-key activities such as reading a book, doing the crossword or maybe a Sudoku puzzle.
If that doesn’t sound like fun, start engaging in relaxation and meditation techniques. Take some deep breaths, clear your mind, and feel yourself drift off. If you need to, you can download a meditation app onto your phone to help you! There are plenty of free options.
When it comes to waking up, skip the snooze button. Going back to sleep can send you back into REM sleep and you will wake up even more drowsy! You should also consider setting up a morning routine that you can do on autopilot – eat the same breakfast, shower at the same time, choose your clothes the night before, and know your commute like the back of your hand. Essentially, you should cut down on your decisions so you don’t have to tax yourself too early.
Do you think any of these tips could help? We challenge you to commit to keeping your new schedule for 30 days to see how you can change your life.