Sleep is commonly recognized as a vital part of our well-being, with experts recommending somewhere between 7 to 9 hours per night. Most of us recognize the importance of sleep, but getting a full night of quality sleep is much easier said than done. As a busy college student with a million things on my to-do list, I often find it difficult to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and frequently experience restless nights. This is partly due to stress, partly due to a busy schedule, and mostly due to poor habits and lack of routine. One of the most impactful things you can do for your sleep is to create and follow a bedtime routine that works for you.
Creating a Bedtime Routine
1. Decide on a bedtime
This may seem obvious, but this step is often overlooked and is necessary to figure out before moving forward in building a routine. While each person is different in the amount of sleep they need, your bedtime should be at least 7 hours before the time you need to wake up at. Some people need more sleep than others, so it’s important to listen to your body. Personally, I know I cannot function anywhere near my best if I do not get at least 8 hours of sleep, so choose a time that works for you personally!
2. Stop eating 2-4 hours before bed
Eating too close to bedtime can result in a decrease in sleep quality and quantity. Allowing time after eating before settling in for the night allows you to properly digest the food and sets you up for a great night of sleep.
3. Put away electronics at least 30 minutes before bed
I’m sure we have all heard of this one, but with the way we live today, it can be extremely challenging. After a busy day, you may just want to relax and scroll through social media or watch your favorite TV show. Sometimes at school I even find myself doing homework right up until I fall asleep. While spending a little time each day using electronics is not entirely a bad thing, it’s important to be conscious of what time of day we are using them. The blue light that is emitted from the screen tricks our brain into thinking it is daytime and suppresses melatonin, keeping us awake. Giving yourself at least 30 minutes of screen-free time before bed is so important and will allow your mind and body to settle down (How to Build a Better Bedtime Routine for Adults).
4. Create a sleep oasis
I am a very high-maintenance sleeper. I need it to be pitch black, with no noise, and at the perfect, cool temperature. However, I live in an apartment with three roommates at school, and at home, I live with 6 other family members, which means most of these aspects are compromised. So, creating this sleep oasis has been the turning point for me, increasing my quality and quantity of sleep. I like to set my bedroom temperature to 68 degrees Fahrenheit, set up a white noise machine on my nightstand, pop in my earplugs, and throw on an eye mask. However, this step should be customized to your own preferences and needs, so have fun with it!
5. Do something that is relaxing for you
Reading a good book, journaling, meditating, stretching, listening to calming music, taking a bath, and making a warm cup of tea- these are all great ways to relax your mind and body before going to bed!
Most of us are aware of the importance of sleep, yet it continues to be one of the most challenging areas of our health to nail down. It has become so normalized in today’s hustle culture to never get enough sleep. We need to change our perspective on sleep and think of it as the time to rejuvenate so that we can be the best versions of ourselves. Prioritize your sleep by starting with a bedtime routine and notice how much your sleeping habits improve!
“How to Build a Better Bedtime Routine for Adults.” Sleep Foundation, 23 June 2023, www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-hygiene/bedtime-routine-for-adults.