In our mattress reviews and online mattress comparison guides, we have always emphasized the importance of buying a quality mattress that’s comfortable and supportive. But as important as a good mattress is, it takes much more to get a good night's sleep.
If you are sleeping poorly, maybe taking too long to fall asleep or constantly waking up at night, the problem could be how you are spending your evening.
Your evening routine greatly determines the quality of your sleep and in connection, how well your next day goes.
It’s so important that even celebrities, entrepreneurs and sports figures make their bedtime ritual an essential part of their day.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the famous Portuguese footballer, has a sleep coach who advises him to avoid his phone and other screens 90 minutes before bed and to always sleep on fresh sheets.
Sir Richard Branson prefers dinner with family and friends while other celebrities burn incense and light scented candles.
If you want to sleep better and have productive days, you need to revamp your nighttime routine. Focus on relaxing your body and mind and avoiding distractions.
Gadgets and Screens
Perhaps the biggest detractor to good sleep nowadays is the proliferation of gadgets at home. The smartphone is especially bad.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, using gadgets before or in bed suppresses sleep hormones and makes your brain more alert, which prevents you from falling asleep. These gadgets also keep you awake with their constant alert vibrations and chimes.
For at least one a half hours before sleep, put all your gadgets away. Switch off your phone or put it in airplane mode. Turn off the TV and switch off any non-essential screens.
This will allow your sleep hormone to start building up in readiness for sleep.
It also gives you time to rest your emotions. Thumbing through Facebook or Twitter just before bed or while in bed will heighten your emotions – be it happiness, sadness or anger – and keep you from sleeping.
If possible, do not bring your gadgets into your bedroom. Get a bedside radio or alarm clock to wake you up in the morning. This eliminates any temptation to pick the phone up when you are unable to sleep or you hear a notification.
Everyone relaxes in their own way, find yours.
If you love reading, read a book for 30 minutes to an hour before bed. Take a warm bath and if it helps, add relaxing essential oils like lavender or mint.
Spending quality time with other people close to you can also help you relax and de-stress after a long day. Sit down for dinner with your family or invite a friend over. A nightly call to a friend or family member who lives far away also helps reduce anxiety and stress.
Other ways to relax include listening to soft music, taking a relaxing herbal tea (no caffeinated beverages) and engaging in a hobby like cooking, drawing or knitting.
Exercise is also important. Even a brisk walk in the afternoon can help you feel more relaxed in the evening. Just make sure you don’t exercise too close to bedtime as the increased energy levels can prevent your body from relaxing.
Try to create a lasting routine that you can stick to. Have a rigid timetable with specific times for different activities. You should have a specific time when you put gadgets down and turn off all screens, eat dinner, read a book (or do any other pre-bedtime hobby) and most importantly, go to bed.
A constant routine helps train your body and makes it easier to ditch bad pre-bedtime habits. Stick to it every day though you can deviate a bit on weekends for date night or Netflix bingeing.
Medical note: If you are having trouble sleeping every night, talk to your doctor. You might have a sleep disorder that requires medical attention or therapy.
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