What you do before bedtime matters

Last week, the spotlight was on an unexpected star player crucial to our daytime productivity-a good night’s sleep. We noted the importance of regular sleep patterns which involve sleeping and waking up at regular times. Deciding what time to go to bed is the easy bit, but many people struggle to fall asleep when they hop into bed. The mind races, sleep escapes and it takes frequent tossing and turning before we fall into a fitful night’s sleep. We wake up feeling as though we’ve been run over by a bus. If this sounds familiar to you, do read on for some tips to obtain a better night’s rest. Your daytime productivity depends on it!

Why do some people find it difficult to sleep even after a hard day’s work? A common reason is not having prepared for bedtime. Just like any important meeting that requires preparation, we also need to anticipate and prepare for bedtime. If this sounds counter intuitive, think about how many of us attempt to rapidly shift gears from a highly stimulated state of mind to a relaxed state necessary for sleep. This may explain why the mind continues to race even when we’re snugly under our covers. The mind needs time to wind down so that we can ease into our bedtime.

This involves scheduling time to consciously unwind and signal to our bodies that bedtime is approaching. Just as a simple act of changing clothes can help us shift into work mode during this season of working from home (check out our article entitled The Power of Rhythm), we can tap on the power of routines to improve our sleep quality.

Last week, we shared about setting our bedtime by counting back 7 or 8 hours from the time we need to get up. We should add on to this by establishing a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Having such a routine signals to the body that bedtime is approaching. It also gives our active minds a chance to unwind. The choice of a bedtime routine varies, but the idea is to engage in a relaxing activity. These could include taking a warm shower, indulging in some light reading or even doing light stretches before bed. The possibilities are endless, invest time to explore different relaxing activities to identify what works for you.

The habit of working, texting or using our phones for extended periods in bed could also make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Engaging in activities other than sleeping in bed could result in the mind associating the bed with other activities. This associations send mixed signals to our brain and make it harder for us to ease into our night-time routines. The solution moving forward would be to keep our bed exclusively for sleeping. This helps our mind adjust to associating the bed with sleeping which makes our bedtime routine more effective.

To augment our night-time routine, we should explore ways to make our bedroom a sleep sanctuary or sleep-only area. This might prove challenging in Singapore and other cities where small living spaces mean that our bedroom doubles up as our study or computer room. However, this does not have to stop us from trying out different ways to make our rooms cozier for a more relaxing and enjoyable bedtime.

The main idea is to create a calm and relaxing atmosphere. We spend almost a third of each day asleep and it is a good idea to invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow that fits your neck contour. The bedroom should be as dark as possible when we sleep. Blackout curtains, minimizing devices that emit light (especially blue light) or using eye shades could help.

It might also be a good idea to leave our electronics outside our bedrooms and rely on an alarm clock to wake us up in the morning. Installing a dimmer switch can also change the mood. Dimming the lights as we enter into our bedtime routine can also be a powerful signal that it’s time to wind down for the day.

Getting a good night’s rest is vital for our health and productivity. There are other adjustments that we can incorporate into our routines. Follow us as we uncover more tips in the next week.

What are some night-time routines that work for you? We’d love to hear from you. Please connect with us or send us a message on Facebook. Do bookmark this space for upcoming articles on hacks for a better stay at home experience.

(Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash)