Develop the Perfect Evening Routine to Avoid Insomnia
I have never had a problem waking up in the morning. When the alarm goes off, I get up and ready to go, but falling asleep is always a different matter. If you feel like you need to toss and turn for hours before you really fall asleep, there are several things you can do to help.
We’ve talked in the past about improving your morning routine to start your day, but a good evening routine is just as important. If you find yourself not falling asleep as easily as you would like, the text below outlines what you can do during the day and then explains how to develop a better evening routine to help you fall asleep faster. …
What you can do during the day
It might seem silly to think about falling asleep during the day, but if insomnia is as annoying as it is to me – not to mention the exhaustion it can cause the next day – it’s worth a little thought. Here’s what you need to remember during the day to sleep better at night.
Plan your day so that dinner is early in the evening. Heavy foods can take a lot of work from your stomach to digest, which can make it difficult to sleep properly, so don’t eat heavy foods in the two hours before bed (and stay away from spicy and unhealthy foods if you want to keep the nightmares away ). If you’re too hungry when bedtime, there are several foods to eat before bed and they can even help you sleep, like bananas, oatmeal, and whole grain bread, to name just a few.
Get up and do something after eating
The urge to take a nap after eating can be overwhelming, especially on a tiring day, but this should be avoided as it will make it harder for you to fall asleep that night. After eating, get up and do something more active – even if it’s just washing dishes or taking out the trash. This will keep you from feeling sleepy after eating and is a great time for a 10 minute cleaning.
Avoid naps (at least for now)
Naps can be beneficial, but once you start getting used to this new routine, avoid naps. As Health.com explains, naps can make it difficult to fall asleep at night :
“Even a little light sleep reduces the intensity of night sleep,” says Ralph Downey III, Ph.D., director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California. “The dream becomes nothing more than another episode of fragmented sleep.”
If you still feel sleepy after checking your evening routine and getting better sleep, you can try adding light sleep to your day, preferably early in the day. But when you start, know that it can do more harm than good.
Exercising regularly will help you sleep better at night, even if you exercise in the morning. CNN explains :
An active lifestyle can also mean more restful sleep. The National Sleep Foundation says exercising in the afternoon can help improve sleepiness and shorten the time it takes to get to dreamland. But they warn that vigorous exercise before bed can actually backfire.
However, a 2003 study found that a morning fitness regimen was the key to better sleep. Researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center concluded that postmenopausal women who exercised for 30 minutes each morning had fewer trouble falling asleep than less active women. Women who exercised in the evening saw little or no improvement in their sleep patterns.
Find a time during the day when you can quietly do something. If you don’t know where to start, Lifehacker workout is an easy regimen that doesn’t take long and doesn’t require equipment.
What Your Evening Routine Should Include
When night falls, it’s time to think about your bedtime routine. Any routine before bed is good – it informs your body of the approaching bedtime, as is Pavlov’s practice – but these are the things that will make your evening routine even more effective.
Leave your job alone
As you finish your day, take some time to prepare your first assignment the next morning . It’s hard not to think about work at night, especially if there is something important the next day, but the better you prepare the night before, the better you will be able to relax and fall asleep that night.
Find the perfect time to sleep
You want to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning – even on weekends. To find the perfect time to sleep, count seven and a half hours from the time you normally wake up . This will ensure that you wake up at the optimal moment during your sleep cycle. You usually wake up 10 minutes before the alarm goes off. You can set the intervals at 15 minute intervals to find the perfect time to sleep. If you’re having trouble keeping this schedule, add it to your calendar or set a bedtime notification on your smartphone.
Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol
We already know what caffeine and alcohol do to your brain , and none of them are good sleeping pills. Caffeine is obvious; you want to stay away from this for as long as possible a few hours before bed – or even during the day if you can help. And while alcohol may seem to help you fall asleep, it won’t give you the deep sleep your body needs. If you drink, do so a few hours before bed to help you sleep better.
Find a relaxing activity (no screen)
Choose something modest to do before bed, such as reading a book. Bright screens, like your TV or computer screens, emit blue light that suppresses melatonin , a hormone that prompts your body to sleep. Read a paper book or use an e-ink reader instead of an iPad or laptop. If you absolutely must use a screen (for example, if you’re a big fan of digital comics ), at least use something like cross-platform Flux to keep blue light to a minimum.
Lower your body temperature
You may have noticed that sleeping in cooler weather is much easier because your body temperature naturally drops at night when it’s time to sleep. It is easy to lower your body temperature when it’s cold outside, but if you open the window and don’t cut it, a hot bath can work wonders :
Soak in the bath for 20 to 30 minutes two hours before bed, recommends Joyce Walsleben, Ph.D., assistant professor at New York University School of Medicine. “If you raise the temperature a degree or two with the bath, the steeper drop in temperature before bed is more likely to put you into deep sleep,” she says. The shower is less efficient, but it can work too.
You can even read the above reading in the bathtub and kill two birds with one stone. We’ve also mentioned several ways to cool your body and brain at night , as well as a few homemade air conditioners to help keep your room cool .
Don’t lie awake in bed
If you find that you’ve been in bed for 15 minutes and don’t feel tired, get up and do something else. Return to reading this book or do something else that doesn’t make your body think it’s time to wake up. You want your body to associate your bed with sleep and nothing else (other than possibly sex), working again with our Pavlovian tendencies of making us sleep when our head hits the pillow.
While you can customize your schedule to suit your preferences or needs, these tricks should help you transform your evening into a much more sleep-friendly daily routine.
This story was originally published in November 2011 and updated on December 7, 2021 to follow the Lifehacker style guidelines.