The Importance of Winding Down Before Bed

Preparation is key to getting a restful night of sleep.

In terms of your overall health, one of the most important things you can do is get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep is our body’s way of replenishing itself. It is integral to our immune response, and necessary for mental health. That being said, 50-70 million adults in the US suffer from some kind of sleep disorder. This isn’t surprising, especially given the stress we are all currently under as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This data tells me however, that adults are not prioritizing their sleep.

Your body has a natural circadian rhythm, which regulates our sleep-wake cycle. Your body knows how much sleep it needs. The problem is that we stay up late binge-watching, sitting on our phones, or drinking wine from a box, instead of listening to our bodies.

There are a million reasons why you may not be getting adequate sleep. The first thing you should consider however, is whether or not you are making sleep a priority.

READ MORE: Could Technology Addiction be Affecting Your Sleep?

One of the ways we can prioritize sleep is by creating a wind-down routine. Basically, every night you engage in a series of activities with the goal of relaxing. If you do this for 33 days straight, it will become a habit, and eventually sleep will come easy to you.

Here are a few ways you can prioritize sleep and wind down:

No devices one hour before bed. Even if your phone is on night-time mode, there is no real reason you need to check it an hour before bed. One hour before bed-time, I put my phone in my bedroom, beside my bed, with the alarm set. The very act of not having my phone within reach has a relaxing effect.

No alcohol 2 hours before bed. These are trying times, so if you want to drown your sorrows in a glass of wine in the evenings, I won’t judge you. Alcohol consumption is bad for sleep however, so don’t overdo it, and cut yourself off two hours before bed.

Focus on being mindful of your sleep. Committing to a good night’s sleep involves a certain level of awareness. If you know you are heading to bed soon, take 10 minutes to sit still, and do nothing. Close your eyes, and imagine getting a good night’s sleep. Let your mind wander, and follow your stream of consciousness. This is a low-key form of meditation that can help your body prepare for rest.

Develop relaxing habits. Drinking herbal tea, reading a book, taking a long bath, and stretching are three examples of things you can do before bed to relax. Relaxation is different for everyone however, so find habits that work for you and engage in them every night.

Try music. Listen to classical or ambient music before bed. Music has a way of creating an atmosphere, so listening to relaxing music will trick your mind into relaxing, and help usher you into a great night of sleep.

Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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