9 Steps for Creating a Healthy Sleep Routine
Of all the things you have to worry about on a given day, going to sleep shouldn’t be one of them. Lie down, close your eyes, and let your body do the rest…it should be as simple as that, right?
Well, for anyone that’s ever spent the night lying awake staring at the clock, you know that sleep isn’t always that easy. In fact, here in Canada a whopping 43% of men and 55% of women ages 18 to 64 have reported having difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. And this number continues to grow year after year.
Sleep is the most important gift you give to your body. It literally affects everything you do. So it’s no surprise that getting the recommended 7-9 hours per night is not optional – it’s absolutely required if you want to be at your peak.
Having trouble with quality sleep? It may be a lack of a healthy sleep routine. Thankfully as luxury bedding experts, we here at White Terry Home know a lot about building healthy sleep routines, and have compiled our top 9 steps for ensuring you get the best night’s sleep ever.
1. Stick to a Sleep Schedule
We get it, life is busy. Work, family, social activities, errands – we are seriously pressed for time. And often, we tend to find extra hours in the day in the early morning or late evening, stealing a little bit here or there from sleep.
However, to ensure you get consistent, sufficient rest night after night, it’s important you stick to a sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each and every night (yes, even on weekends) trains your body. Over time this training will ensure that you fall asleep quickly and stay sleeping throughout the night, even in less than ideal sleep conditions.
2. Power Down Electronics
We’ve talked about this one before. Electronics are a huge culprit in preventing quality sleep. Both from the distractions they cause, as well as the light they emit. Putting away your electronic devices at least one hour before bed ensures that your body has ample time to get itself into sleep mode.
3. Avoid Eating and Drinking Right Before Bed
That slice of pizza at 10:30pm, while tasty, isn’t doing your sleep any favors. Food and drink right before bed can not only cause sleep-disrupting indigestion, but it also causes your body to kick into overdrive. Every time we consume something, our body gets to work on its digestion process. While we don’t normally notice this process during daytime hours, at night, the increased blood flow and activity in your gut can often be just distracting enough to keep you from falling asleep.
4. Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Nicotine
While most cannot imagine a morning without a cup of coffee, it’s important to remember that caffeine is a powerful stimulant. Taken too late in the day, and you risk affecting your ability to get a quality night’s sleep. The same holds true for nicotine. Ideally, smokers will want to have their last cigarette of the day at least 4 hours or so before they plan to go to sleep, which will ensure the last bit of nicotine runs its course in time for you to get some shut eye.
While not a stimulant, alcohol can also affect your sleep cycle. It may get you to fall asleep faster, but it does its damage later in the evening, when it disrupts your brain's ability to fall into its normal REM sleep cycles, leaving you feeling incredibly tired come morning.
5. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise benefits all areas of your body, including sleep. When you exercise regularly, you experience spikes in energy levels that will give you an immediate boost, but will require replenishment later that night in the form of deep, sound sleep.
However, you need to be sure that you’re exercising early enough in the day to prevent that energy boost from affecting your sleep. While each body is different, it’s recommended that you don’t exercise within 3 hours of when you plan to go to sleep.
6. Allocate Time to Wind Down
Sleep isn’t just something your body can turn on and off like a light switch. It’s actually a complicated system of steps, the most important of which begins with the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. When your body is sensing that sleep is near, it will begin producing melatonin, which will allow your body to slow down, shut down, and eventually fall into a deep slumber.
But production of melatonin needs to be triggered, and if you’re running around like crazy before bed, you may be prevent this process from getting started. Instead of firing off emails or cleaning the oven, your time before bed should kick start a relaxation process. Fall into the couch with a good book. Sip on a cup of caffeine-free tea. Take a bubble bath. You get the idea…
Find ways to wind down and relax at least an hour or so before your bedtime, and your melatonin will do the rest.
7. Be Cautious of Naps
While it’s hard to argue with the amazing feeling of a great nap, you should exercise caution when it comes to getting some shut eye during the day. While naps can be a power tool – especially if your sleep the night before was disrupted – they can also be preventing you from getting quality sleep at night.
If you are going to nap, be sure to do so earlier in the day (before 2pm) and keep it to under 60 minutes.
8. Create the Perfect Sleeping Environment
Even if your body is prepared for sleep, if you’re not creating a proper sleep environment, you’re fighting a losing battle. Ensure your master bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool before you head to bed, as these three elements will ensure you sleep soundly.
Light plays an especially important role in sleep, as darkness is one of the main triggers of melatonin release, which as we discussed earlier is the hormone responsible for sleep. Studies show that darker the sleep environment, the more melatonin that is released. This is why it’s crucial to block out light from your bedroom using tools like blackout shades and eye masks, such as this Silk Sleep Mask from HalfMoon. With its super comfortable fabric and shape, you won’t even notice you’re wearing it. Yet it will block out 100% of unwanted light, ensuring that your body feels like it’s sleeping in total darkness. This is especially helpful for those who travel frequently, and also during those summer months when the sun starts creeping up super early in the morning!
Another sleep-inducing tool we love is essential oils. Saje carries a variety of oils and diffusers, all of which have developed with one purpose in mind: to give you an incredibly restful night’s sleep.
9. Sleep on a Comfortable Mattress, Pillows and Bedding
Of course, it goes without saying that a comfortable sleeping surface is the backbone of any quality night’s rest. Ensure you find a mattress that works for you, and top it with comfortable, supportive pillows. In recent years, the “mattress-in-a-box” boom has made it easier than ever to find the perfect mattress.
And don’t forget about the bedding! Think about it this way: if you were going to wear the same shirt every single day – 8 hours a day – for the rest of your life, you’d want to ensure it was comfortable, right? Well, your bedsheets and duvet cover are essentially a fabric that you wear every single day. Opt for a breathable 100% organic cotton sheet set and pillowcase, and ensure it’s made from quality fabric that will last over many nights of deep, comfortable sleep.
With these 9 steps, you’ll be well on your way to building the perfect healthy sleep routine that works best for you. Remember that sleep will affect every other thing you do that day. So take these steps seriously, build your sleep routine today, and start enjoying better days tomorrow.