There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning at night and just not being able to fall asleep. One way to prevent this from happening and optimize the sleep you're getting? Keep a steady bedtime routine each night. Experts say that the brain actually starts getting ready for sleep around two hours before we get into bed, due to the fact that its neurons have been firing all day and need adequate time to allow the sleep system to take over the waking system. Today on the blog, we’ve narrowed down six of our favorite practices that we incorporate into our nightly routine.
Begin by winding down with a cup of herbal tea.
We love to relax before bed with a cup of chamomile tea to help us begin settling down. It’s important to cut out both caffeine and alcohol before sleep and switch to an herbal tea instead. While cutting out caffeine might be a given due to its stimulant properties, what can be surprising is that alcohol has similar effects. It might be tempting to have a glass of wine to ease into bed time, but after a few hours alcohol actually acts as a stimulant — leading to a less peaceful sleep with plenty of wake-ups.
Dim your lights and limit electronics to optimize your Circadian Rhythm.
Because our body’s natural Circadian Rhythm can be highly impacted by lighting, it’s important to adjust in order to fully maximize our nightly sleep. Switching to a warmer lighting (definitely nothing fluorescent!) or taking advantage of a dimming switch helps our body signal our inner clock that it is becoming time to rest. Limiting our technology use once it starts becoming dark outside is also critical due to the blue light that our phones, TVs, and computers emit. This blue light keeps our brains stimulated when they should be starting to wind down. Want to learn more? You can check out our post on your natural Circadian Rhythm here.
Turn on an essential oils diffuser.
We love using essential oils blends to promote feelings of calmness and help us get restful sleep. There are certain individual oils and blends that when diffused about 20-30 minutes before bed time can encourage relaxation, due to their impact on the brain’s limbic system. The strong fragrances of essential oils are found in specific molecules that are able to travel through the bloodstream and through the blood/brain barrier very quickly, into our limbic system. The limbic system is responsible for responding to sensory information, particularly smells, so it can be very beneficial to intentionally use certain scents to promote relaxation. Our favorite smells to put in our diffuser before bedtime? Lavender, Wild Orange, and Ylang Ylang.
Encourage a drop in body temperature.
Yes — there is actually an ideal temperature for sleeping at night. Research from Cornell University Medical College has shown that a drop in our body temperature at night can increase our chances of falling asleep and staying asleep. If you like taking a hot bath or shower before bed, try moving it up an hour or two. This will help stimulate a drop in body temperature after it has been raised. Keeping your room between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit overnight will help maintain an optimal body temperature to get those coveted Zzzs, too.
Go to bed at the same time each night.
Studies have shown that going to bed at the same time each night can have numerous health benefits. The more regular your sleep schedule, the higher quality of rest you’ll have and the better you’ll feel on a daily basis. Many have found that going to sleep on a regular schedule can reduce our sleep latency — the period of time it takes to fall asleep. Try sticking to a small time window that you’d like to be in bed by, and stick to that.
Wear a sleep mask.
External light can have a negative impact on our pineal gland’s production of melatonin, which can ultimately disturb our sleep rhythms. This can be impacted by what are seemingly small things, such as a sliver of light coming from the window or the hallway, the brightness of your phone receiving notifications, or screen of your alarm clock. It’s important to keep a dark sleeping environment, so incorporating a sleep mask into your nightly routine can have some real benefits. In fact, a 2010 Chinese study found that participants who wore a sleep mask and ear plugs had higher levels of melatonin (the hormone responsible for signaling the body that it’s time for sleep).
Bonus! Sleep & Your Skin:
Did you know? By optimizing our bedtime routines, we can optimize our overall skin health and radiance, giving even more meaning to the phrase “beauty sleep."
Sleep and Collagen
Our skin makes new collagen while we sleep, so when we don’t get enough rest at night, we might be faced with less elasticity and more wrinkles. In fact, only sleeping 5 hours at night can lead to twice as many wrinkles as we would get if we slept 7 hours at night.
Sleep, Skin, and Immunity
When we don’t get enough sleep, our body loses its ability to regulate the immune system. The skin is the body’s largest organ and protective barrier from outside toxins that worsen the immune system, so when we aren’t sleeping an adequate amount and aren’t caring for our skin health, our immune system can be impacted.
Sleep and Your Natural Glow
Hyaluronic Acid is a molecule naturally produced in our bodies that is primarily responsible for maintaining the body’s natural moisture, resulting in supple, glowing skin. When we don’t get enough sleep, our body starts to break down Hyaluronic Acid in the body, leading to dryer, more dull skin.
Sleep and Those Under-Eye Circles
When we don’t get enough sleep, our skin can become more dull, leading to the formation of dark tissues and blood vessels, which we often see primarily underneath our eyes. Additionally, when we don’t get the rest we need, fluid builds underneath the eyes, resulting in puffy, dark areas under the eyes.
Having a solidified bedtime routine can help us destress from the day and relax knowing sleep will come easier, which in turn can play a big role in our overall skin health and well-being. Have any favorite ways to get ready for bed? Let us know in the comments!