How to Set Up a Healthy Bedtime Routine

Healthcare experts have emphasized the importance of sleep for a healthy lifestyle. However, sleep has proven to be frustratingly elusive for many people. If you have struggled with getting into a healthy sleep cycle, setting up a bedtime routine can help.

Watch What You Eat

Eating before bed can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Lying down immediately after eating can trigger heartburn (also known as gastroesophageal reflux or acid reflux). If you eat right before bed, you lose the effect of gravity which usually keeps the contents of your stomach down, and allow digestive juices to flow back up into your esophagus and cause some irritation. Nighttime eating could also cause you stomach pain, nausea, and bloating.

To avoid these unpleasant side effects of nighttime eating, it’s a good idea to be careful about eating and drinking before bed. Avoid sugar and caffeine in particular, as well as spicy, greasy, or fatty foods. In general, the bigger your late-night meal is, the longer it will take for your body to digest. If possible, try to finish eating for the day two to three hours before heading to bed.

Avoid Screens

Blue light causes your brain to think it’s not time for bed. Light (especially the blue light that comes from screens) signals the brain to become alert and attentive by suppressing melatonin, the sleep-regulation hormone.

The good news is that you can set a healthy pattern and train your brain to produce melatonin before bed. Turn off your screens at least an hour before you want to go to sleep. Over the next few weeks, your brain will be able to produce the melatonin you need to go to sleep faster.

Set a Consistent Bedtime

Consistency is essential in setting up a healthy bedtime routine. Decide on, and commit to, a bedtime and a wakeup time that will work for your schedule. Try to fit in about seven to nine hours of sleep each night, even on the weekends. Even if you don’t feel sleepy at your set bedtime, you should still go to bed and try to lay still until you fall asleep. While it may be difficult at first, your body will get used to the new schedule over time. You might try gradually working towards your goal bedtime by going to sleep 15 minutes earlier each night. Establishing a pre-bedtime routine can help your body wind down after the day’s work and prepare for a good night’s sleep.

As you watch what you eat before bed, avoid screens, and set a consistent bedtime, you will find that sleep comes easier and more naturally. You will be pleased with the quality of sleep you enjoy once you’ve set up a healthy bedtime routine.

Read this next: What You Can Do to Sleep Better at Night

Simon Greenberg

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