How to Build Your Sleep Routine

If you've struggled with putting a good night's rest on the back burner, let this be the year you take a step toward better sleep.

Think of your sleep hygiene as a series of sleep habits. These habits can drastically improve your ability not only to fall asleep but to stay asleep.

So whether you have chronic insomnia or just poor self-control when it comes to prioritizing rest over past unhealthy sleep patterns or binging on TV shows, these tips can help set you on the right path. If implementing the entire list feels overwhelming, begin with a few new habits and build from there.

The first thing you'll want to do is make some tweaks to the environment that is your bedroom. Ideally, the room should be cool, dark, and peaceful. Turn down the temp, get some black-out blinds, play spa sounds, and spray the sheets with essential oils. Really, whatever you need to do to create an inviting atmosphere.

So, now you have a bedroom that is enticing to sleep in? Great! Next, you'll want to adopt some other fairly easy guidelines and habits.

Establish your schedule. Choose the hours you'll be dedicating to sleep each night and be intentional about keeping them. This helps your body's internal clock to create a routine.

Exercise early in the day. It's great to get those endorphins pumping, but if you do it too close to bedtime, it'll do more harm than good for your ability to drift off.

Be cautious of naps. While a nap may be enticing at the moment, it usually ends up lasting longer than intended and throws off your body's natural timeline for sleep.

Use the bedroom only for bedroom activities. Keep this room strictly business so that when you lay down to sleep, your body knows precisely what is happening.

Limit blue light. If you don't have a lightbulb that you can manually change the hue from cool to warm, grab some glasses that are specifically made to filter out these rays that tend to keep our brains working overtime.

Engage in a ritual. Whether it's a bath or a night-time skincare routine, or even just a candle, this act signals to our brain that bedtime is coming.

It's important to note that sometimes you'll do your best to follow these habits, and your mind still won't shut off. You can try leaving a notebook near your bedside so you can do a brain dump when your mind is spinning. The act of getting those thoughts out onto paper will keep them from constantly swirling in your head, keeping you awake. This is a great practice to do every night, so you crawl into bed with a clear mind.

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Health and happiness,

Alicia Williamson RN, BSN, MSNW, CHC

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