Night time routines for adults
Most of us had a night routine as children, but a bed time routine for adults can be harder to stick to. With only yourself to motivate you to go to bed at the same time each night, how can you find a bed time routine that helps you get the hours of sleep you need?
What is a night time routine?
A night routine is the set of activities that you do every night, in the same order, in the hour or so before bed. It could involve a hot bath, the next chapter of a favourite book or even a skin care routine. If you’re just starting a new night routine, give it some time to become second nature – it takes 66 days on average to train your body for a new behaviour to become automatic.
Why should I create a night time routine?
Night time routines help our brains know when it is time for sleep. A night routine that you repeat every night, such as a bath an hour before bed, trains your brain to recognise this pattern as part of your bed time wind down. With our 24/7 access to light and entertainment in our homes, the gradual dimming that naturally preceded bedtime has given way to broken sleep patterns and, ultimately, less sleep.
For children, a night routine is essential for establishing a healthy sleeping pattern. And although as adults we have the luxury of making our own decisions about how we use our time, we too can benefit from sleep scheduling and a bed time routine.
What should I put into my night time routine?
Your night routine should include a few key activities that help you wind down for bed. While some are things that everyone should do, others will depend on what you find most relaxing. So what are the most important things to include in your night time routine?
Stick to a bed time
Your brain has a built-in night time routine, part of your sleep-wake cycle, that helps you feel tired at bed time. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle and lets you fall asleep quickly at bed time.
Equally, waking up at the same time each day, and getting out into natural daylight as soon as possible, will also help regulate your body clock. Knowing when you’re going to bed also makes it easier to know when it’s time to start the other activities that are part of your night routine.
Meditation comes in many forms, from mindfulness meditation to gentle movement. It can help you reduce stress and prevent anxious thoughts from keeping you awake. Mindfulness meditation has been found to improve sleep quality, so it is a good place to start if you are new to meditation. It helps you connect with your body and surroundings, manage racing thoughts and fall asleep more easily.
To incorporate it into your night routine, first find somewhere comfortable – your bed is ideal. Focus on your breathing, noticing your chest moving as you breathe in and out. Notice your thoughts and try to let them pass on their own without trying to change or stop them. Use your focus on your breathing to help you avoid getting carried away in your thoughts.
Create to-do lists to manage stress
Worries at bedtime can seem more overwhelming than at other times of day. Jotting down your tasks for the next day can help unburden your mind before bed.
Research suggests that making a quick to-do list as part of your night routine has been found to speed up the process of falling asleep. In fact, the more specific your list, the faster the study found the participants fell asleep.
Relaxing your muscles before bed with a massage or stretching can help you feel calm and ready for sleep. If you have a bed with built-in Cyclo-therapy® massage, you could use this as part of your night routine to get ready for sleep. Massage therapy can also help tackle any muscle or joint pain that might be disrupting your sleep too. Making sure your adjustable bed mattress is comfortable and supportive will help you drift off more easily.
Another useful technique is progressive muscle relaxation: adding it to your night time routine can help you fall asleep more easily. It helps you to focus on your body, release tension and feel calm.
Starting at the top of your head and working down to your toes, tense one muscle group, and then the next. You could start with tensing and then relaxing your eyebrows, and then move to squeezing your eyes shut before allowing them to relax. Continue down your body, through your face, chest, arms, stomach, legs and finally your toes.
Read a book
Reading a book before bed is a night time routine many of us pick up in childhood, even before we can read when we’re read to by our parents. Make sure your book isn’t too exciting, e.g., re-read a book rather than dip into a new, high-tension thriller.
Have a warm drink – but no caffeine and alcohol
Although you should avoid caffeine or alcohol in the hours before bed, a warm, non-caffeinated herbal drink is another good way to feel relaxed and ready for sleep. Choose your favourite herbal tea or drink: chamomile tea is widely used to induce sleep, but any non-caffeinated drink will do.
Listening to ambient sounds, like white noise, can help mask disruptive sounds, such as banging noises or traffic, and give your mind something to focus on rather than the day’s worries.
Have a warm bath
A warm bath before bed is not only relaxing, the fall in body temperature when you get out can mimic the night time drop in core temperature your body goes through as it prepares for sleep. Try taking a warm bath about an hour before bed to help you feel tired and ready for sleep.
Evening skin-care routine
If skin-care is something you enjoy, you can incorporate this into your night time routine. After your bath is an ideal time to add this in. It can include removing make-up, applying any prescribed skin creams you may have, moisturising or even a mindful face massage.
Turn off electric devices
The blue light emitted by electronic devices, including phones, TVs, computers and tablets, can trick your brain into thinking it is still daytime and therefore time to be awake. This suppresses production of the hormone melatonin, which can cause sleep problems and prevent you from feeling tired at bedtime.
Dim the lights
Depending on the type of lighting you have in your home, it may or may not be similar to the blue light emitted by electronic devices. However, exposure to any bright light can alter your circadian rhythm and harm your sleep if you’re exposed to it in the few hours before bed. Turning down the lights in the hours before bed to a minimum can help you go to bed earlier and so get more sleep.
How to structure your night time routine
Your night time routine should take around 30 to 60 minutes. Here’s an example of how that might look:
Turn down the lights in the room you’re in and switch off the TV. Put down your phone, and leave it alone until morning.
If you have alarms to set for the morning, try doing them now rather than at bedtime and see if it helps you avoid mulling over any worries about your sleep while you’re in bed.
Do something you find relaxing – whether this is reading, skin care, stretching or playing your guitar. Whatever you do, don’t make it too exciting.
Have a bath or warm shower.
Ensure that your bedroom is at the right temperature for sleep (around 18°C) and that the blinds are closed if streetlight or early summer daylight is a problem.
Time for a final wind-down activity, such as meditation or listening to sleep sounds. You can do these in bed if they are sleep-related, but be careful not to disrupt your association with your bed and sleep.
Time for sleep – get into bed if you weren’t already, lie down and turn out the lights.
Winding down after work
The time between finishing work and bed time can seem rushed, with family activities and socialising to fit in, meals to prepare and household chores to contend with. Fitting in some exercise might naturally come fairly far down your list of priorities, but going for a walk, or doing some yoga can help take the edge off any pent-up energy and stretch out stiff muscles from sitting at a desk during the day.
Avoid eating too late in the evening, as this can lead to night time acid reflux that can disrupt your sleep. Preparing meals in advance, or investigating some quick, nutritious recipes can help make this easier.
It’s equally important that your sleep environment is set up to give you the best night’s sleep possible: remove clutter, ensure it’s dark, and keep it around 18°C. If you work from home, keep any reminders of work out of the bedroom.
In the hour or so before bed, doing something that helps you feel relaxed is a great way to feel tired come bedtime. Stretching and massaging your muscles is a bedtime routine that can be both relaxing and pain-relieving, helping avoid sleep disturbance from aches and pains. If you have bought a riser recliner chair with built-in Cyclo-Therapy massage, you can even combine another item from your night routine, such as reading, with a relaxing massage.
Just before you go to sleep
Spend the minutes before you go to bed setting yourself up to fall asleep quickly and get a full night’s sleep. This is a good time to try some relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness meditation, or reading a good book. Sleeping well means getting enough time in each sleep stage, including REM and deep sleep. However, a lot of the work to make falling asleep easy needs to be done before you even begin your night time routine.
Setting up your sleep environment to promote restful sleep is an important part of falling asleep quickly and easily. This includes keeping your bedroom dark and relatively cool, and also sleeping in a comfortable, neutral spine position. Buying an adjustable bed base makes finding the best position for you easy, meaning you can avoid sleep disruption from midnight tussles with piles of pillows used to support you as you sleep.
During the day, take the time to make sure your bed is clean and tidy too. This will make bedtime less stressful and your bed more enticing. Clean sheets also help reduce dust mites that can cause some allergies and contribute to asthma.
Remember to try this before you go to bed:
These are the key steps to include in your night routine:
- Dim the lights and turn off electronics an hour before bed.
- Do a relaxing (non-electronic) activity.
- Take a warm bath or shower.
- Make sure your bedroom is cool enough for sleep, and that your curtains are closed.
- In bed, do a final wind-down activity, such as a breathing exercise.
- Turn out the lights, and go to sleep.
Buy the right adjustable bed for you
Starting a new routine can seem daunting, but once you have been doing your new night routine for a few weeks, it should become second nature and set you up for a good night’s sleep. An adjustable bed can help you get better sleep too, especially if pain or an uncomfortable bed is preventing you from sleeping well. With a huge range of features, sizes and styles to choose from, purchase the right adjustable bed for you in our bed buying guide.