Tips for building a mentally healthy nighttime routine
“Bedtime” might sound like it is for babies – with it, a daily routine to have teeth brushed, PJs on, and be tucked into bed ready for a night’s sleep. But we know that healthy bedtime and nighttime routines are good for everyone, adults too.
Sleep has many benefits. Research has found that it can:
- help us reduce stress and manage emotions;
- be more alert, attentive, and more productive during the day; and
- support learning and memory (Worley, 2018).
With better sleep quality (how good the sleep was; not necessarily how long) people may also experience more positive emotions and less intense negative emotions (Parsons et al., 2021).
For these reasons, it’s important that you think about your nighttime routine to help you get a better night’s sleep. Trial and error may be required to find what works for you and make the routine stick. Remember that what works for one person may not work for another – when you find a nighttime routine that works for you, it will feel right.
Here are a few ideas to consider for your nighttime routine:
Wake up and go to bed at the same time – a consistent sleep schedule can help to maintain your internal clock and improve your quality of sleep. Pick a time to begin winding down and getting ready for sleep each night. Try to stick to it throughout the week.
Clean up – If you keep your space decluttered and clean up your areas before bed, you may notice a more relaxed state of mind.
Avoid technology – Technology encourages you to think about things that may keep you up. Try to turn off your electronics at least an hour before bed and do something else that you find supports your wellness.
Read – Reading can be an alternative to scrolling through the internet, and still keep you engaged enough before you sleep.
Dim the lights – Light is a signal to be alert, and you don’t want to receive that signal when you’re sleeping. Light can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep. Consider ways to block out light when you’re sleep like using an eye mask.
White or brown noise – White noise includes sounds like TV or radio static, while brown noise is deeper and includes sounds like rainfall. Background noises, such as these, can help keep you from being jolted awake when you start to fall asleep. It can also become a cue for your mind and body to relax as you may start to connect it with sleep. Add your own activities to the list! What helps you unwind and relax? Remember to make a nighttime routine tailored to you and what makes you feel healthy.
References: Parsons, C. E., Schofield, B., Batziou, S. E., Ward, C., & Young, K. S. (2021). Sleep quality is associated with emotion experience and adaptive regulation of positive emotion: An experience sampling study. Journal of Sleep Research, 31(4). https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.13533 Worley S. L. (2018). The Extraordinary Importance of Sleep: The Detrimental Effects of Inadequate Sleep on Health and Public Safety Drive an Explosion of Sleep Research. P & T : a peer-reviewed journal for formulary management, 43(12), 758–763.