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How to Create a Calming Sleep Routine

Unstructured days and uncertain futures have some of us struggling to sleep well. A calming routine can help ease you into a good night's rest. Here's how.

It’s been season of upheaval and uncertainty, and as a result, not all of us are sleeping well. Anxiety about the future and unstructured days have made for less than restful nights. A calming bedtime routine can help.

Create a set of cues so your body and mind know to prepare to settle down and sleep. These cues, over time and through repetition, will act as a signal to transition from an alert state to a relaxed one.

Turn off your screens

Blue light from screens – television, tablets, laptops and phones – is stimulating, and interferes with the natural circadian rhythms that govern wakefulness and sleep. Stop viewing all screens at least 30 minutes before heading to bed. Furthermore, online news and social media can have a powerful affect on our emotions, keeping us awake, alert and potentially anxious.

Make your bedroom a screen-free zone

Leave digital devices out of the bedroom. It is a powerful psychological signal that the time for work, communication, and outside intrusions is done for the day, and that only rest lays ahead.

Use your senses to wind down

Create a routine of cues that soothingly engages your nervous system, sending signals across the senses that it is time to settle down.

  • Drink a hot cup of chamomile tea, which is well-known to induce sleep and reduce anxiety.
  • Listen to soft, calming music, or a podcast about relaxation.
  • Do a pre-bedtime yoga class, designed to wind you down.
  • Read a few pages from a book that sets your mind at ease: poetry, religious texts, or a good book – but avoid thrilling page-turners!
  • Write in a journal. Leave the day’s triumphs and tribulations behind you. Put it down on the page, and leave it there.
  • Enjoy the scent of lavender in an essential oil diffuser. Two major components of the oil, linalool and linalyl acetate, can be effective in reducing anxiety
Alcohol is not part of the plan

Although alcohol is technically a depressant, slowing our breathing rate and making us feel relaxed and even sleepy, it does not necessarily contribute to a good night’s sleep. Alcohol can interfere with natural sleep cycles, and can contribute to insomnia for some. While the occasional drink is fine, do not count it in as part of your regular bedtime routine.

Address anxiety

Anxiety is a common culprit when it comes to sleeplessness. Make a to-do list of all the things you have to do tomorrow to prevent your mind from worrying over these tasks. If you wake in the night with another task, simply add to the list, and then go back to sleep. The list will be a handy tool to get you started the next day.

Keep it dark and cool

Our bodies get their best sleep when in a cool, dark space. Cool the room in advance of heading to bed, and turn off all the lights when you are ready to lay down your head. Invest in blackout curtains or blinds to keep out the glare of the city, as indirect light can disturb your slumber as well. The change in temperature and light level will also act as cues to your body to prepare for sleep.

Make your new routine a routine

Follow the steps you have chosen in approximately the same order at the same time every night. Let these calming cues become dependable signals to your mind and body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Our minds and bodies respond powerfully to repetition – let this natural inclination carry you to a more restful night’s sleep.

Are you having trouble getting a good night’s rest? Contact the BFDC, we can help.