by Edie Horstman
Let’s face it: modern life is stressful. Between constantly staring at screens, getting distracted by notifications and rushing from one responsibility to another, it’s no surprise that a restful night’s sleep is hard to come by — even if it’s more imperative than ever that we clock in those eight hours. In fact, sleep is the key to optimizing your body’s performance during the day. Without it, we feel lethargic, more irritable, and in many cases, hungrier.
All of that said, finding a way to fall asleep (and stay asleep) can feel like one more thing to add to your never-ending list of things to do. But creating healthy habits — especially ones that help you leave the stress of the day behind — is surprisingly easy to do, and may just be the gateway for restful, deep and refreshing sleep. In essence, a nighttime routine is where crushing your mile-long to-do list all begins.
Importance of a Night Routine
The earlier a bedtime routine is established in one’s life, the better. Though you likely had one when you were a kid, studies show that sticking to a nighttime routine can help prevent future sleep issues in adults. That said, it’s never too late to establish a nighttime routine. A regular bedtime, and the healthy habits that lead to it, help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. In other words, while getting enough sleep is important, a nighttime routine is equally beneficial.
Furthermore, a bedtime routine has been found to improve memory, cognitive function and even dental health (seriously!). Later in life, consistently getting less than five hours of sleep per night — coupled with an absent nighttime routine — can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, blood sugar regulation issues and memory loss. If that doesn’t make you want to crawl into bed half an hour earlier, we don’t know what will.
With all of that information in mind, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of setting up a routine that will have you counting sheep the minute your head hits the pillow. To create the most optimal bedtime ritual(s) for your unique needs, you will likely need to experiment and through trial and error, find what fits your body’s needs best. Once you find the rituals that work for you, sticking with those habits is the foundation for better sleep. While it may be difficult at first, remind yourself that consistently great sleep patterns stem from routine, and when possible, try and stick with your routine Monday through Sunday (not just during the work week).
When it comes to creating a nighttime routine, every person is different — as it is dependent on your work, play and family schedules. That said, for most, turning off your computer, phone and television at least an hour before bedtime supports falling asleep quickly. After all, electronics have been shown to stimulate brain activity, which is not helpful when you’re trying to fall asleep. If the thought of turning off your phone causes your anxiety to spike, try turning on your phone’s “do not disturb” mode on an hour before you plan to turn out the lights instead. That way, you won’t be distracted by incoming notifications. Even better, charging your phone outside of your bedroom will encourage less social media scrolling (and as an added bonus, you will need to get out of bed when your alarm goes off in the morning).
For others, pre-sleep meditation, dimming the lights and cracking open a book are the keys to deep sleep. Meditation, specifically, is known to decrease stress and help you focus on the task at hand: undisturbed sleep. For many, herbs for sleep and natural sleep supplements are also imperative to encourage them to leave the stress of the day where it belongs.
Natural Sleep Supplements
While recommendations for night routines vary, wellness gurus and holistic doctors tout the benefits of herbal sleep supplements. As a natural remedy, these sleep supplements have fewer side effects than over-the-counter prescriptions, making them a drug-free option for those of us who struggle to wind down in the evenings, even after carving out time to unplug and destress. FOCL Night, for example, combines full-spectrum hemp CBD and sleep-friendly botanicals to help you sleep peacefully. With adaptogens like Ashwagandha (for stress reduction) and Valerian Root (for tranquility) added to the capsules, FOCL Night supports a better quality sleep. Whether taking herbal supplements alongside a cup of caffeine-free tea or consuming them before diving into a new book, a natural sleep aid may be your ticket to a more restful night’s sleep.
Edie Horstman is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, wellness blogger and freelance writer. She works with health-focused brands, co-creating content in the digital marketing space. She lives in Denver, Colorado.