Dinner at 6pm, bath at 7pm and tucked in by 8 - we know why this is the perfect bedtime routine for kids. It helps them wind down and gives them the important hours of sleep they need. So what happens when our parents stop telling us when to go to bed? Adult bedtime routines are not quite as unanimous but they’re just as essential for our sleep. Here’s why you need a healthy adult bedtime routine and how to get one.
The benefits of routines
Humans enjoy the feeling of a routine. Routines free your brain from making constant minor decisions which can lead to fatigue. Imagine if you had to ‘decide’ each day when to get up, eat, exercise and brush your teeth? Instead it all happens in an easy flow without your brain having to tell you what to do. This feeling of flow helps you to be more productive and feel as though you’re achieving the necessary tasks. Which in turn, reduces stress.
But there is such a thing as an unhealthy routine. For example, streaming TV until 1am, waking up groggy then skipping breakfast just to get through the office doors on time is still a routine. It’s just not a very good one.
Even healthy routines have the potential to turn mundane if you don’t break them every so often. Forming a healthy bedtime routine is important but so is allowing yourself a few nights off - like weekends - to change things up.
What would a good routine look like?
Heidi Dening is a workplace wellness speaker and consultant from Workable Wellness. Her work often focuses on helping busy professionals fall asleep and stay there. Here’s what she had to say about adult bedtime routines:
“It’s crucial to create a buffer between your work day and rest day, so your brain understands that it is time to wind down and switch off. When we are tired, we don’t function, lead, exercise, love, play, eat, create, analyse, or strategise well!
A good sleep ritual is:
1. 30-60 mins before bed, put away all devices.
2. Read a story book.
3. Do a gentle movement sequence.
4. Articulate 3 things you are grateful for. Even on bad days, I am still grateful for coffee, wine and fresh air.
5. 10pm (in bed) rub lavender cream”
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3 ways to wind down
Getting physical during the day will prepare you both physically and mentally for sleep. Regular exercise lowers your general level of stress, improves your mood and will help your body feel sufficiently fatigued by bedtime.
Sleep when you're sleepy
There is a natural sleep-wake cycle of about sixty to ninety minutes so if you delay sleep when you are feeling sleepy you may miss your window. Bottom line: when you feel sleepy, go straight to bed!
Have an awake routine
Can't sleep? Have a routine for that too. If you can't fall asleep or you wake up and can't get back to sleep, rather than laying there stewing, develop a calming routine that will be at the very least relaxing, and at best, will help you fall back asleep.”
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Make it so you want to get some sleep
Don’t get us wrong; we used to find it hard to escape that perfect couch nook and head to bed as well. But an extremely comfortable sleep setup is all you need to lure you in earlier each night.
Prepared to splurge?
Treat yourself to a new memory foam mattress and enjoy all the benefits. You’ll never be disturbed by your partner tossing and turning again thanks to motion stabilisation. Plus it provides personalised support and is designed to contour to your body.
Find out more about memory foam here.
Comfort not a problem?
Maybe you need a design change to get you excited about spending more time in bed. A Pinterest-worthy bedhead is a simple way to update the decor. Add a fluffy throw rug and some designer cushions and you’ll never want to leave.
Doing the same thing every night sounds boring but you may be surprised by how much you enjoy it. With a few ‘cheat days’ thrown in you’ll be reaping the healthy bedtime routine benefits without feeling stuck in a rut.