It's more common these days that we talk about a sleep routine, but what is a healthy sleep routine? The good news is the steps you can take to implement a good routine are actually very simple.
When you first wake up in the morning, try to go outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunlight, even if it's only for a few moments (if the weather is really bad stand at the window and look outside at the trees, nature and light).
If you are new to exercise or have a chronic disease, try to use movement lightly throughout the day and pace yourself.
Try to avoid drinking caffeine after lunchtime.
(This is a great one!) Make a to-do list for the next day before dinner, getting into your night routine; being organised, helps your mind rest.
Try to stick to a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
Set your bedtime so that you can get a complete 8 hours minimum of sleep. For example, if you have to be up at 7 a.m., make sure you are in bed by 11 p.m.
Eat your evening meal in plenty of time to allow it to digest before bed, and try to avoid a heavy meal; the ideal time to eat has been suggested as 6pm, so try to get as close to that as possible (obviously, if you are going out to dinner with friends one night, go ahead and enjoy; we all need a social life!)
Turn your phone off at least an hour before bedtime.
Try to form a sleep ritual, such as drinking a calming cup of herbal tea an hour before bedtime (chamomile is a good choice) or taking a relaxing bath (or both). Before going to bed, read a book instead of watching TV for half an hour. Meditation is also beneficial for calming your nervous system.
Create a peaceful environment in your bedroom by keeping it quiet and dark, keeping any screens out of the room, and keeping the temperature cool and pleasant. Keep in mind that this is your happy place.
If you wake up and can't fall back asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed, go into another room, and do something soothing (no screens, please; we don't want anything stimulating) before returning to bed. If you're having trouble sleeping, keep a sleep journal and take it to your doctor or another healthcare expert. As a registered nutritionist, we specialise in lifestyle medicine, which includes stress and sleep.
Rather than crashing and waking up fatigued, or struggling to fall asleep in the first place, or waking up in the early hours, attempt to set up a new sleeping habit now. You don't have to complete all of the steps; simply begin with one and work your way up.
Just take the first step and see how you feel!
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