I made use of my sleepless nights to search the web for some of the best, proven ways to optimize my nightly routine. After trying tons out, here are 9 that worked the best for me:
- Stick to A Schedule: Your body is built on patterns of activity called a circadian rhythm. By establishing a schedule of waking up and going to bed at the same time every day (yes, even on the weekend) your circadian rhythm will be consistent. That means healthier sleep and metabolism for your fit lifestyle!
- Set the Stage: The primary purpose of your bedroom is for sleeping, right? Is it actually set up to do that? After reading that your bedroom should be kept cool, between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, I lowered the AC and slept better that very night!
You can set the stage for sleep even further by removing or blocking lights and sounds, and using calming colors like blue, green or grey in the space.
- Cut the Cord:Sleep researchers believe that the blue light from electronic devices like smartphones, TV, and tablets mimics daylight, keeping the brain stimulated and awake. This one was hard for me, who doesn’t love scrolling Facebook before bed? By avoiding screen time for 30 minutes before bedtime and reading a physical book instead, I felt much more relaxed and ready for sleep when I turned out the lights.
- Eat This, Not That: Alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, heavy meals, and spicy foods can all disrupt your nightly routine in different ways. Eating large meals before bed can lead to discomfort and the body storing those calories as fat. I’m a big nighttime eater, so I swapped out my midnight munchies for apples and almond butter 45 minutes before bedtime. Delicious, lean, and no weird dreams!
- Get Your Beauty Rest: Skin cells are most active at night, so showing your skin some TLC before bed can give you a smoother, clearer complexion over time. Showering, cleansing the face, and using a quality night cream all can help with this.
Look for retinols, retinoids, peptides, or Vitamin C on the label. These will enhance your skin’s natural repair process. Now while my wife hasn’t converted me to facials just yet, after washing my face each night I saw reduced redness after just a few days.
- Stress Less & Wind Down: Stress disrupts your sleep patterns by creating a state of hyperarousal. This means your blood pressure, breathing rate, and alertness go through the roof.
One way to beat stress is to create a relaxing bedtime routine. Us humans are creatures of habit. The body needs routine, and the mind will always try to create patterns. Creating a routine that you do each night helps your mind tell your body “hey, it’s bedtime!” Lots of people here at IdealFit swear by some pre-z’s yoga, writing in a journal, or reading a book. I’d drink a glass of water and read, after a few days of this my body got the hint!
- Dress for Success: Did you know clothes really can make the man/woman? Psychologists have discovered that the clothes we wear create symbolic meanings in our minds and can actually influence our actions. Translation? Wearing specific “workout clothes” can help you get the best workout and wearing specific “sleeping clothes” can actually improve the quality of your sleep!
I’ve never been big on pajamas but changing into comfortable clothes that my brain knew were just for sleeping helped me get into that mode faster and easier than I believed it could, I am now #TeamPJs!
- Sweat 4 Sleep: I was always told not to exercise late in the evening because it could keep you awake! I definitely didn’t need any help in that department. It turns out, it might actually work the other way around.
Recent studies have found that most people can not only work out much harder and longer during evening hours, but that evening resistance exercise (like bodyweight workouts or weight training) can significantly improve the quality of your sleep habits! In a randomized trial, the group that exercised at 7 pm woke up less and got to sleep faster than at any other earlier time.
This made a HUGE difference for my nighttime routine! I’m not sure if it was just because I went too hard too fast, but I slept like a baby after my very first evening workout.
- Try a Probiotic: I always thought probiotics were just for old lady yogurt. It turns out, I was wrong and they have tons of benefits for everyone. Probiotics refer to healthy “good bacteria” found in your digestive system that aid in digestion, boost immunity, reduce cholesterol, and generally help you have a happier, healthier tummy.
Taking a probiotic supplement at night makes them even more effective because at night your body’s digestive activity is at its lowest. This helps more of the good bacteria make its way through your stomach and into the intestines where they are needed.