INFOGRAPHIC: The Perfect Sleep Wind Down Routine, According to Science

Insomnia is the most commonly reported sleep condition — about 60 million Americans deal with the effects of sleeplessness on a regular basis. While one night of tossing and turning is usually nothing to be concerned about, chronic sleep deprivation can have major physiological and psychological effects.

So what can insomniacs do to get a better night’s rest? As it turns out, sleeping medication is not always the answer — it could come down to making smarter choices throughout the day. Following a daily schedule that promotes quality sleep is easier than you think! Check out how you can get the best sleep ever, night after night.

 

Scroll to see tips.

According to Science

Your evening routine is one of the most important factors in getting quality rest night after night. Looking to get an even better ZZZs? This is the perfect routine for better sleep, according to sleep experts.

Throughout
the morning

  • Get Moving
    Numerous studies suggest that regular moderate exercise (i.e. walking) performed consistently can help those that suffer from insomnia to fall asleep more quickly, sleep longer and enjoy better sleep quality.
  • Soak Up the Sun
    Natural sunlight in the morning helps suppress the production of melatonin, a chemical that helps send you off to sleep. Ample exposure to sunlight during the day will help keep your circadian rhythm regulated and save the “sleepy” chemicals in your brain for the evening.
  • 6 Hours
    Before
    Bedtime

    Wrap Up Your Nap
    If you’re an avid napper, make sure you get your power nap at least 6 hours before you plan to fall asleep in the evening—and limit your naps to a maximum of 30 minutes. This way, you can enjoy the many health benefits of napping without throwing off your internal clock.
  • 4 hours
    before
    bedtime

    Stop Drinking Caffeine
    It takes approximately 4 to 6 hours for the effects of caffeine, found in things like coffee or energy drinks, to fully wear off. By switching from caffeinated drinks to water or herbal tea about 6 hours before bedtime, you’ll have given your body plenty of time to shake off the wakeful effects of caffeine.
  • 90 minutes
    before
    bedtime

    Take a Warm Shower or Bath
    Your core body temperature begins to drop during the evening, with lower body temperatures making you feel drowsy when it’s time to sleep. By taking a warm bath or shower about an hour and a half before bed, you can help enhance this natural cool-to-sleep process.
  • 1 hour
    before
    bedtime

    Dim the House Lights

    Light effects your internal clock by suppressing or encouraging the production of sleepy chemicals like melatonin. By dimming your household lights about one hour before bed, you are helping signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.

    Take Melatonin Supplements

    Melatonin is a naturally produced chemical that helps your brain and body drift off to sleep. By taking between 1-5 mg of a melatonin supplement, or drinking tart cherry juice that is naturally rich in melatonin, studies suggest that the quality of your sleep could improve by up to 15%.

  • 30 minutes
    before
    bedtime

    Set an “Electronics” Curfew
    The specific type of light emitted from devices like tablets or smartphones actually tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime. To help trigger your brain to produce chemicals that aid in sleep, swap your device for a book or analog activity about half an hour before bedtime.

At Bedtime

  • Shut Off the Lights
    Even if your bedroom seems completely dark, blinking lights and glow from electronics can distract you and keep you awake. Cover up blinking, flashing or pulsing lights and turn off hall lights that could shine through doorways.
  • Lower Your
    Bedroom Temperature
    Countless sleep studies show us that there really is a perfect sleep temperature. Set your bedroom thermostat between 60*F and 67*F if you are able, and if not, try adding a standing fan to help keep your sleep environment as cool as possible.
  • Play Relaxing Music
    Music that has a tempo of around 60 beats per minute closely match your resting heart rate, and can help you relax and drift off. Music that has no repeating elements or lyrics are even better at sending you off to sleep.
  • Invest in a Better Bed
    No matter how great your wind down routine is, a supportive and comfortable mattress is your best defense against chronic insomnia. Invest in a new bed every 5 to 8 years—the estimated lifespan of most quality mattresses.

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Check out the science behind this infographic…

 

Get moving: Sleep Foundation: How Physical Activity Impacts Your Overall Quality of Sleep

Soak up the sun: Reuters: Morning Daylight Exposure Tied to a Good Night’s Sleep

Wrap up your nap: National Sleep Foundation: Sleep Topics – Naps

Stop drinking caffeine: Caffeine Informer: Half Life of Caffeine

Take a warm shower or bath: Rthm.io: The Science of How Warm Baths Promote Sleep

Dim the house lights: WebMD: Light Exposure May Cut Production of Melatonin

Take melatonin supplements: MIT News: MIT Study Confirms Melatonin’s Value as Sleep Aid

Set an “electronics” curfew: Harvard Health: Blue Light Has a Dark Side

Shut off the lights: Rob Brown MD: Melatonin and the Health Effects of Ambient Bedroom Light

Lower your bedroom temperature: National Foundation for Sleep: The Ideal Temperature for Sleep

Play relaxing music: PLOS Journals: The Effect of Music on the Human Stress Response

Invest in a better bed: Better Sleep Council: When to Say “So Long” to Your Mattress

 

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