Wind Down for Better Sleep: A Step-by-Step Guide

A wind-down routine helps your transition from your active day, into restful sleep. This can help you fall asleep easier, and make your sleep more relaxing improving sleep quality.

What Science Says about Wind-Down Routines and Sleep

  1. Limit Screen Time Before Bed: Reducing exposure to blue light from screens such as smartphones can help regulate your circadian rhythm and prepare your body for sleep. [1,2] To implement this, make a habit of setting your phone to “night mode” or use blue light blocking software for at least an hour before bedtime. Consider investing in a physical book or journal for winding down, instead of reading on a device.
  2. Create a Relaxing Environment: A calming sleep environment can enhance the quality of your sleep. [3,4] Take the time to make your bed every day and consider investing in comfortable bedding and pillows. Add some calming elements to your sleep environment, such as relaxing music.
  3. Engage in Relaxing Activities: Relaxing activities such as yoga, meditation, or reading can help calm the mind and body and prepare you for sleep. [5,6] Find activities that you enjoy and make them a regular part of your wind-down routine. Set aside 20 minutes before bed for these activities to give yourself time to fully relax.
  4. Avoid Stimulants: Caffeine and other stimulants can disrupt sleep and make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. [7,8] Try to avoid consuming caffeine after 2 pm, or earlier if you are sensitive to it. Also, limit alcohol consumption before bed as it can also disrupt sleep patterns.
  5. Establish a Consistent Sleep Schedule: Having a consistent sleep schedule helps regulate your circadian rhythm and improve the quality of your sleep. [9,10] Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. If you struggle to fall asleep, try to avoid napping during the day to not disrupt your sleep schedule.

Your Turn: Implement Your Wind-Down Routine

It’s time to turn knowledge into action. Start by implementing one or two of these steps and gradually build up to a full wind-down routine. The key is consistency – stick to your routine every night to see the best results. Sweet dreams!

Further reading and references:

[1] Harvard Health Publishing. (2017). “The Blue Light Dilemma.”

[2] Harvard Medical School. (2015). “Blue Light Has a Dark Side.”

[3] American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2017). “Creating a Sleep-Conducive Environment.”

[4] National Sleep Foundation. (2015). “The Sleep Environment.”

[5] Mayo Clinic. (2017). “Relaxation Techniques for Sleep.”

[6] National Sleep Foundation. (2015). “Relaxation and Sleep.”

[7] Sleep Health (2017) Caffeine and sleep in adults: An update on recent literature”

[8] Sleep Medicine Reviews (2014) “The impact of caffeine on the sleep-wake cycle”

[9] American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2017). “Sleep Scheduling.”

[10] National Sleep Foundation. (2015). “Consistent Sleep Scheduling.”

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