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11 Tips for a Better Bedtime Routine

Apr 23 2024
5 min read
A Woman in bed at Canyon Ranch Tucson health spa resort getting a good night sleep.

Get a good night’s sleep – night-after-night – with these simple restful rituals.

Good rest should be as easy as, well, falling asleep. But most adults struggle with maintaining a healthy sleep schedule at some point in their lives.

Whether it’s a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea that needs professional treatment, or your anxiety about staying asleep is, ironically, preventing you from falling asleep, good sleep hygiene can help make bedtime one of the peaceful parts of your day again. According to Dr. Michael Grandner, Director of the Sleep and Heath Research Program at the University of Arizona, sleep hygiene includes all the ways you set yourself up for a successful night — from calming your mind to making your bedroom a sleep sanctuary.

When you’ve counted every last sheep but shut-eye still eludes you, try adding these simple steps, recommended by Dr. Grandner, to your bedtime routine for a more well-rested you.

Dim the Lights
About 30 minutes before bed, turn down the lights in your room. A cool (between three and five degrees less than your typical daytime temperature), dark, quiet bedroom creates a more comfortable sleep environment. If you enjoy reading or other activities that need light before bed, considering keeping the light in a yellow-orange spectrum to promote melatonin, which then signals to your body that its time to rest.

Quiet Your Mind
Just like the lights, try to “turn down” the noise in your mind as you prepare to sleep. Slow mental activity with practices that aren't excessively stimulating (like reading a book or taking a bath) and allow your thoughts to wind down as you drift off.

Journal
One good way to quiet your thoughts is to write them out. If you find yourself running through tomorrow’s to-do list one too many times, try quickly jotting it down to review come morning. This is also great for any emotional stress or anxiety keeping you awake that you can journal about.

Meditate
A good evening meditation routine can help prepare your mind and body for bed by promoting relaxation and a sense of peace. Expressing gratitude has also been shown to help people relax and reset at the end of a long day. Consider adding affirmations and reflections on anything that makes you feel grateful to your bedtime routine.

Woman stretching

Stretch
The same way meditation relaxes your mind, giving your body a little release can help you slip off faster once your head hits the pillow. Try some gentle yoga poses and light stretching to relieve any tension that’s built up throughout the day.

Read a Book
Reading or listening to audiobooks can also be an effective way to “shut off” your mind before sleep by giving it something to focus on beyond your busy schedule. Just try to establish a designated reading spot, with a soft light, so your brain doesn’t associate your bed with anything other than sleep.

Don’t Eat Too Late
A good general rule of thumb is to avoid excessive foods, liquids, and substances like caffeine and alcohol past 8 p.m. Eating lighter meals later in the day can also help your digestive system relax so it doesn't keep you up at night.

woman drinking a cup of tea

But a Cup of Tea’s Okay
A soothing cup of herbal tea before bed can help you unwind and de-stress. Just make sure it's decaf, as caffeine can block adenosine, the neurotransmitter that makes you feel tired.

Don’t Get in Bed Too Early
Try not to get into bed until you’re ready to sleep. The best way to reprogram a broken sleep schedule is to firmly establish your bed as a sleep zone, which helps even the most active mind relax. If you wake up at any point in the night and can’t sleep, try getting up to reading or stretch and only return once you’re tired again.

Create a Consistent Morning Routine
The best bedtime routine starts in the morning. A regular alarm helps set your circadian rhythm and prepare it for sleep about 16-17 hours later. Make sure you get plenty of bright light and movement in the morning to boost your mood, increase energy, and prepare your body for a more restful sleep come evening.

Try a Sleep Retreat
Master your best bedtime ritual at a Sleep Immersion. Led by Dr. Grandner, one of the world's top sleep authorities, this retreat provides personalized insights and practical skills to help you get the best sleep of your life.

While you wait for the next Immersion, receive answers to your sleep questions with our Get Healthy package, which helps you achieve healthier habits for a more optimized lifestyle.