Countless distractions get in the way of a restful night of sleep such as your cell phone, daunting work priorities, or even a faulty mattress. Implementing a regular nighttime routine will help eliminate those distractions, and get you on your way to a higher-quality rest.
According to the experts, an adult should get an average of 7-9 hours of sleep every night to function efficiently, and accurately.
If you aren’t getting the recommended amount of rest, consider incorporating a bedtime routine into your nightly schedule. Not only does a bedtime routine gives your body and mind the chance to wind down for the night, but it also makes you feel more relaxed so you fall asleep easily and be ready to take on the day when you wake up.
More Sleep Leads to Higher Productivity
Have you ever shown up to work after getting a measly four or five hours of sleep the night before? Most people have, and by default, have unknowingly contributed to the $411 billion of economic losses the United States sustains every year from lost productivity due to a lack of sleep.
Sleep deprivation can lead to sluggishness, poor memory retention, and slower response time. Believe it or not, those who are under the influence of alcohol have a 50% higher response time and complete tasks more efficiently than somebody trying to function on little sleep.
Additionally, people who get 7-8 hours of sleep per night are 20% more productive than those who only get 5-6.
Naturally, in the business world, higher productivity usually results in higher pay. A study done by Matthew Gibson & Jeffrey Shrader from the Department of Economics at Williams College showed an increase in short term pay by 1.5% and a 4.9% increase in the long term for individuals who slept an hour longer at night.
Now, what’s one of the best ways to get that extra hour of sleep so you can maximize your output and salary?
You guessed it — a nightly bedtime routine.
8 Steps for Your Nighttime Routine
You probably have a morning routine to perk you up and get ready for the 8+ hour day ahead. Apply that same logic to a nighttime routine — but instead, it calms you down and prepares you for the following 7+ hours you’ll spend asleep in your bed.
Simply add a few of the steps listed below to your current teeth brushing and face washing nighttime routine so you feel refreshed and fully energized the morning after.
There is no telling how long your routine should be. It could take 45 minutes, or it could take an hour and a half. It all depends on you, and how long it takes for you to feel relaxed enough to fall asleep.
Step 1: Turn off Your Electronic Devices
If we’re going to mention distractions, we need to talk about your electronics because they’re undoubtedly one of the guiltiest parties when it comes to sleep disruption.
The constant buzzing from work emails, texts, and social media notifications keep your brain on high alert, making it harder for your mind to distinguish when it’s time to fall asleep. The blue light that emanates from electronic devices like your phone and television also plays a role in hindering you from your beauty rest because it disrupts your circadian rhythm, the bodily process that influences your sleep-wake cycle.
To prevent your electronics from keeping you awake at night, unplug your television and keep your phone away from your bedside table. As hard as it may be, try to stay away from electronics in the hour and a half leading up to bedtime. Out of sight, out of mind.
Step 2: Make Sure Your Mattress Isn’t the Problem
A poor mattress is one of the leading causes of tossing and turning. Even if your bed is only three years old and it still looks good-as-new, it may not be suitable for your body and sleeper type. For example, those who predominantly sleep on their back and stomach generally feel more comfortable on firmer mattresses because they support their spine and keep it from sagging into the bed.
On the flip side, side sleepers need something softer so they get adequate pressure relief for their hips and shoulders. If you’re not in the position to afford a brand new mattress, try looking for a soft or firm mattress topper to make it feel more accommodating.
Of course, an old mattress can contribute to poor sleep as well. A saggy mattress or one with permanent body impressions can lead to an aching back or pains in your side, which is unproductive for somebody trying to get a full 7-9 hours of sleep.
Step 3: Consider Bedtime Yoga and Meditation
Even if you don’t practice yoga or meditation during the day, there are gentle yoga poses you can do at night to stretch your muscles and ease your mind before bed. For one, yoga promotes mindfulness, which contributes to a happier state of mind, allowing you to approach your workday with a positive attitude where you can reach your full productivity potential. It’ll also help loosen up your joints and muscles so your body feels more relaxed and ready to enter sleep mode.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, additional health benefits of nighttime meditation include decreased blood pressure, and can even help soothe anxiety and depression. This makes meditation a helpful tool for those who suffer from pre-work jitters or anxiety the night before a big day on the job.
Step 4: Play Relaxing Sounds
How susceptible are you to sounds? Have you ever felt immediately relaxed by the sound of the crashing waves during a day at the beach? Or, do you leave your window open during summer nights so you can listen to the sound of bustling trees or chirping crickets? If so, you might benefit from using a sound machine.
The soothing sounds from the machine help lull you to sleep, and it can aid in drowning out unwanted noises, like for those who live in an apartment complex with barking dogs or noisy neighbors. A sound machine can also help individuals with the opposite problem, those who are bothered by completely silent environments.
If you’re more prone to relaxing music, you can certainly play sounds from that instead of a sound machine. Just make sure you aren’t breaking the “no electronics” tip. Hook your phone up to a speaker and let it run through an easy-listening playlist, or put on a calming vinyl record.
Step 5: Start Writing in a Journal
Insomnia can be a huge deterrent from the full nighttime sleep routine we need to wake up feeling well-rested.
One of the most common causes of insomnia is anxiety, and if your anxiety stems from work-related responsibilities, journal writing might be a good option for you. It’s easy to let stress related to work overwhelm your thoughts when you’re laying in bed at night, stuck in your head.
So writing down tomorrow’s work tasks is a good way to free those anxious thoughts from your mind and onto a piece of paper, especially if there’s nothing you can about it at 10:00 p.m.
Not only will you be super prepared for work the next day, but there’s something about writing goals or tasks down on paper that makes you more likely to do them.
Step 6: Have a Set Bedtime Every Night
Little kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from a strict bedtime. Referring back to the circadian rhythm concept we discussed earlier, having a set bedtime supports your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
In other words, if adults make a habit of going to bed around the same time each night, their body will begin to recognize when it should start winding down for sleep.
Let’s say you have to wake up for work at 7 a.m. to get to work by eight, you should set your bedtime to about 11:00. That way, when 10:00 p.m. comes around, you’ll start feeling sleepy and the thought of bed begins to sound nice.
Step 7: Keep Work Out of the Bedroom
This tip is directed towards the workaholics who work past the clock and bring their work home with them, and the people whose office is their home.
If you don’t differentiate your sleeping space from your workspace, your brain won’t know whether it should signal you to go to sleep or finish up that proposal you have due in a week.
Experts say the bedroom should be strictly reserved for two things; sleeping and sex. So there should be no checking work emails or adding finishing touches to a presentation on your laptop while you’re in bed.
Step 8: Adjust Your Bedroom’s Temperature
You want to ensure your environment is accommodating for nighttime sleep routine, and this includes bedroom temperature. You don’t want your room to be too hot or cold or else you risk sleep disruption. You probably know what we’re talking about, when you wake up in the middle of the night damp from your sweat, or feeling like your toes have turned into little icicles.
Then, it’s always a toss-up how long it’ll take to get back to bed once you eventually do fix your temperature problem. This can be harmful if you’re trying to wake up fully rested in the morning. So to prevent overheating or getting too cold, set your temperature to something in between 65-73 degrees, which is considered to be the ideal sleeping temperature among professionals.