Creating a Sleep Routine
Establishing a sleep routine that works for you helps you get the recommended amount of sleep each night. Sleep routines are activities before bed each night. Routines can improve the quality and length of sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep is essential to maintaining long-term healthy eating and physical activity habits. Good sleep is free and is perhaps the most budget-friendly step you can take toward wellness. Even a simple step added before bed can help you on your path to better sleep. When creating your routine, consider the following:
Set up a healthy sleep environment—make sure the bedroom is comfortable and relaxing
- Keep the noise level low and the room dark and cool
- Add white noise (fan, humidifier, or noise machine) if it is too noisy or too quiet
- Turn off or put away anything that will get in the way of your sleep
- Take TVs and computers out of the bedroom
- Keep pets in a crate or outside of the room
- Keep your bed as an area just for sleeping
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule—keep the same bedtime schedule on both weekdays and weekends to keep your circadian rhythm in check
- Create a bedtime routine (shower, pajamas, and brush teeth)
- Be sure to set a time for “lights off”
- Avoid afternoon naps if it makes it difficult to fall asleep at bedtime
- Set bedtime routines for children and encourage a regular sleep schedule for other family members. It will make it easier for you to follow.
Establish an electronic curfew—technology before bed can make it difficult to sleep because the blue light from screens (TV, tablet, smartphone, or laptop) disrupts the release of melatonin in your body
- Set up an electronic curfew, a time in the evening when all TVs, phones, and computers need to be turned off. This should be at least one to two hours before bedtime.
- If you enjoy reading before bed, opt for printed copies of books, newspapers, and magazine rather than reading on an electronic device.
Reduce caffeine and other substances—caffeine, alcohol, over-the-counter medication, and a heavy meal may make it more difficult to fall asleep, so avoid these items before bed
- Caffeine is found in coffee, black, white and green tea, hot cocoa, lattes, espresso, chai, iced tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate.
- Avoid eating large meals two to three hours before bed. If hungry, opt for a light snack of protein and complex carbohydrates, such as a piece of whole grain toast with peanut butter, fresh fruit, or oatmeal.
- You may fall asleep quickly after a glass of wine, but you are likely to wake up before you have had a full night’s sleep.
- Over-the-counter sleep medications initially may help you fall asleep. However, your body can develop a tolerance to these medications quickly, and they lose their effect.
Avoid physical activity right before bed—physical activity can energize the body and raise body temperature making it more difficult to sleep
- Being physically active earlier in the day will help you meet your physical activity goal and will also help you sleep better.
Choose calming activities—pick something that is soothing and relaxing
- Read, listen to music, do gentle yoga or stretching, reflect on the highlights of the day, think about something positive you are going to do tomorrow.
- Practice deep breathing for relaxation: inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Count your breaths and start back at one if you lose count.
- Do progressive muscle relaxation, a technique where you focus on one part of your body at a time, tensing and relaxing muscles until you have relaxed your body.
Expert Guidance from WashU Wellness Consultants
Working from home requires us to consider new challenges and opportunities for improving our overall well-being. Employees are encouraged to schedule an appointment with a MyWay to Health Consultant to create an individualized plan for adopting the 8ight Ways to Wellness. Our holistic approach focuses on nutrition, weight management, sleep, stress and physical activity. Include your family or roommates in your sessions!