The Anatomy of a Wind Down Routine
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There are a few things that are absolutely critical to our health and well-being: breathing, eating, and sleeping. Many people have the first two down but struggle with the third. In fact, 68 percent of Americans report struggling to sleep at least once a week.
Why does this matter? Well, without sleep, everything else in our life starts to go downhill. The immediate effects of sleep deprivationmake it nearly impossible to get through the day. You’ll feel groggy, you’ll have trouble concentrating, and it will just generally bring down your mood. Long-term, chronic sleep deprivation can even lead to depression, obesity, and increased risk to heart disease.
This is why it’s absolutely vital that you do everything in your power to consistently get quality sleep each night. The first step is finding out what’s getting in your way.
Identifying the culprit
There are a few major reasons you may have trouble catching your ZZZs. First, investigate any potential environmental factors. If external light sources are entering your bedroom, you may need to hang up blackout curtains to avoid being woken in the middle of the night. If noise is the issue, a white noise machine could help mask background sound disruptions. If you’re struggling to get cozy, maybe it’s time to do researchfor how to find a better bed for your sleeping needs.
If you check off all these factors and still can’t sleep, the issue may be behavioral. That’s right, the problem might be you.
If you aren’t spending your evenings giving yourself proper time to relax before bed, you will face challenges falling asleep and reaching deep sleep. Cue the wind down routine!
What’s a wind down routine?
A wind down routine is what you do in the last hour or two before bed to relax your mind and body for bed. In our fast-paced lives, we need to be more intentional and mindful about taking time to slow down and rest.
When you take the time to gradually wind down and prepare your body for sleep, you’ll have an easier time falling asleep and achieving deep sleep for proper restoration and healing of your body. So what are you waiting for? Learn how to start implementing a wind down routine in your evenings and start today to be on your way to more restful sleep and better overall mental and physical health.
How to create a wind down routine
Your wind down routine will be personal to you and what helps you relax, but there are a few common elements that tend to do the trick.
Step 1:Turn off the tech
Our smartphones, televisions, and the other devices in our life produce stimulating, artificial blue lightthat tricks our bodies. Our circadian rhythms (or sleep/wake cycles) are controlled by light exposure. The more light, the more our bodies think we should be awake. Turn off the tech so your body gets the hint and your melatonin production can begin.
Step 2:Set the mood
You don’t want to be in a chaotic environment while you’re trying to relax. Dim the lights and diffuse some essential oils to set up a space for relaxation.
Step 3:Take a warm bath
Warming your body up in a bath with help relax your muscles and relieve tension before you crawl into bed. It will also help you fall asleep all the more easily when your core body temperature dropsonce you get out and get in bed.
Step 4:Do some stretching
Help your body relax even more by doing some light yoga stretchesbefore bedtime. Doing a relaxing sequence of yoga stretches can help ease your muscle tension and increase circulation to help you get the shut-eye you need.
Step 5:Have sweet dreams!
Now that your mind and body are adequately prepared for bed, you should be able to get your best night’s sleep! Once you start getting the hang of a relaxing wind down routine you can improvise and add new activities like reading a book, having a cup of warm tea, or meditating. Just be sure to be consistent! Humans are creatures of habit after all and our bodies are likely to learn a routine and want to stick to it.
Author’s bio: Laurie Larson is a freelance writer who writes on home, health, and lifestyle topics to promote healthy living.