Everyone knows that a bedtime routine is essential for children. They need time to relax and unwind, and they need consistency in their schedules to ensure that they get the quality sleep that their growing bodies need. Yet, somehow in adulthood, that concept has been lost. But, it's just as important for us to have similar priorities and be conscious of how we spend our evenings to ensure a quality night’s sleep as often as possible. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, one-third of Americans don't get enough sleep regularly. If you are one of them, these tips will help you take control of your evenings and get your body into a consistent sleep cycle so that you can wake up feeling your best every day.
- Light A Candle.This may sound a bit strange, but lighting a candle helps promote melatonin naturally within our bodies, especially when done in combination with dimming the lights in the house (or even turning them off). Having too many lights on or too bright of lights in your home in the evening surpasses the natural production of melatonin that helps prepare your body for sleep, so if you're able to turn off as many as possible, make sure to do so. If you have a fireplace in your home, even better. The flickering light is peaceful and calming. Also, the natural fragrances of Lavender, Chamomile, or Bergamot are best to calm your mind and promote relaxation. Leave any other strongly scented candles for another time.
- Take a hot bath or a hot shower. There is a lot of talk of "cold water therapy" in health and wellness right now, and although that is fantastic for your body, make sure to save your cold showers for the morning. In the evenings, a hot shower or bath will help aid your body in its natural circadian rhythm by helping it relax. According to SleepFoundation.org, "Scientists have found that mimicking that nighttime drop in body temperature via a warm bath can trigger a similarly sleepy reaction." So consider taking a warm bath about an hour before you go to sleep. Your body will heat up from the water and cool down quickly as the water evaporates, creating a sensation that makes you feel tired and relaxed.
- Put your Electronics outside of the bedroom. This is the hardest one for most people to do. As a society, we are addicted to our phones, myself included. There's a reason why we repeatedly hear to put away the screens at bedtime: Blue light emitted from screens negatively impacts our production of melatonin, the body's natural sleep-inducing hormone, thereby disrupting our sleep. If you absolutely have to use your phone or tablet at night, I recommend turning on "night shift" or a similar dimming feature or even trying some glasses designed to block blue light. The best habit to try and get into, though, is to just leave your phone outside of the bedroom to charge overnight. I know, easier said than done, but it doesn't hurt to try.
In conclusion, getting a good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and eating healthy. Research shows that poor sleep has immediate adverse effects on your hormones, exercise performance, and brain function. I think we can all attest to the truth that after a poor night’s sleep, it leaves us feeling groggy and irritable and indeed not our best selves. A lack of quality sleep in our lives can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children. In contrast, though, the good news is that a night of good sleep can help you eat less, exercise better, and be overall healthier in your mind and body. If you want to optimize your health overall, prioritizing getting a good night’s sleep is one of the most important things you can do.