routines, even if not fully followed, provide a guiding structure for the chaos of human life. I shower right after my cup of coffee in the morning. I sit at the same desk every day, although technically we have unassigned seating. Around noon I go for long, meandering walks. i sleep every night Always.
From bubble bath to pajama time, kids often have a regular bedtime set by their parents to get the little balls of energy to relax. “We do all of these things so wonderfully for our kids,” says Rebecca Robbins, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and a sleep scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “And then forget to do it for ourselves as adults.” She’s right: Upon closer inspection, so many of the “routines” in my life are just habits formed unconsciously and unceremoniously over time.
Whether you’ve never thought about what to do before bed or you’re looking to overhaul your entire routine, here are seven tips to help you end a hectic day in a perfect and calm way.
Ritualize your time before bed
Robbins recommends ritualizing the entire time before bed. Maybe you’re drinking hot tea, applying face lotion, and talking about the day’s events with your partner in bed. Or maybe you’ll do some stretching followed by a quick bath and a cozy bathrobe. Whatever the routine, the repetitive nature is important.
“Your body and brain then understand what comes after those activities is sleep,” she says. “So we can classically condition ourselves to understand that the end of our bedtime is the time to sleep.” Intentionality can turn a thoughtless habit into a powerful routine.
Understand that consistency is king
One of the biggest mistakes adults make when it comes to bedtime is a lack of consistency. “I would take a page from the playbook that we use for our kids when it comes to falling asleep,” says Robbins. “And that includes a consistent bedtime.”
Even if you start a regular nighttime ritual with the best of intentions, the unpredictability of life is bound to throw your plans off balance. It could be a late night call from a loved one or your favorite sports team winning a nail biter. Whatever messes up your schedule, take a moment to think about what happened and then try again the next night.
Set a regular alarm time
Chris Winter, a doctor, neurologist and sleep specialist, who hosted the Sleep unplugged Podcast, suggests focusing more on when you wake up in the morning than on exactly when you go to bed each night. “I eat lunch at 1 am every day,” says Winter. “But if it comes to one o’clock and I’m not hungry, I’m not going to force food down my throat.”
One caveat is that he advises people to still set their morning alarm for the usual time, even if you go to bed an hour or two later than normal. “I think it’s okay if your brain has a little penalty there,” he says. A little drowsiness can add to the importance of structuring your routine.
Ban screens before bed
When should you put down your smartphone, switch notifications to Do Not Disturb, and leave it untouched on the charger?
Robbins recommends doing this at least 30 minutes before bed. While lowering your phone’s brightness or switching to a warmer light can be easier on your eyes than normal phone use, not using the screen is the best option for a peaceful bedtime.
Don’t rush the process
A pervasive myth about good sleep is that it happens in an instant. Sleepy protagonists in movies snuggle under their covers in a bedroom with half the lights still on, and they’re asleep in a nanosecond. “Actually, even a well-rested person takes about 15 or 20 minutes to fall asleep,” says Robbins. False assumptions about how you should experience sleep can create unrealistic expectations about your nightly ritual.
Seriously, stop pressuring yourself
be nice to yourself While a calming set of measures before bed is beneficial, the opposite is also true. One of the worst things you can do is feel a ton of pressure to get the perfect night’s sleep. “Anxiety starts to cloud the way we perceive sleep, which is really problematic,” says Winter.
As in most situations in life, overly critical emotions only lead to negative spirals. “For me, the secret of a good night’s sleep is being as happy in your waking bed as you are in your sleep,” he says. So build that routine and stick to it, but don’t beat yourself up on a night when things don’t go according to plan.
Contact a professional
Are you looking for the perfect gadget to help you relax and boost your sleep? From mouth tape to pink noise, Winter is critical of “all those stupid things” people buy to aid their sleep. (To be fair, we’ve devoted a lot of time at WIRED to testing sleep devices, and we definitely have clear favorites.) He says, “It’s this idea that if you haven’t figured out the problem, you just don’t have the right one.” Bought the solution.”
Rather than buying a $500 device or trying TikTok’s latest sleep hack, people who are still struggling should make an appointment with a sleep specialist who has a history of helping patients with insomnia or conducting sleep studies.
https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-bedtime-sleep-routines-for-adults/ How to Create Your Optimal Bedtime Routine