3 Surprisingly Simple Things You Should Do Before Bed That Will Ensure a Restful Night’s Sleep

There are a lot of prescriptions for a good night’s sleep, but they often forget the basics — like setting boundaries and encouraging unencumbered dreaming.


3 Surprisingly Simple Things You Should Do Before Bed That Will Ensure a Restful Night's Sleep
Getty Images

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sleep is important. Not just important, really; it’s critical.

When we get a restful night’s sleep, we allow our body to heal, process, and prepare our minds for effective work. This isn’t news, of course. Studies have long shown this to be true.

Yet, we still struggle with it. We struggle to fall asleep, we struggle with fitful nights that are hardly restful (even if they amount to eight hours), and we struggle to prioritize it — “more important” things like work often take precedence.

So let’s do a few things right now to change this unfortunate reality.

First, let’s take a second to put sleep on the top of our to-do list. It doesn’t really matter what your genetics or biochemical makeup is. Sleep is important for everyone.

So, let’s do what we need to ensure every night is restful. How?

First: Set a bedtime and a wakeup time — and be consistent.

We often let the affairs of the day dictate when we go to sleep and wake up, but studies have shown a strong correlation between irregular sleep patterns and obesity, hypertension, heart disease, and other ailments.

As you consider your sleep/wake times, keep in mind that you should be getting at least seven hours of sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Second: Stop using your phone an hour before bedtime.

Yes, there’s the longstanding argument of light disturbance that is perfectly valid, but I find there’s an even more important reason to cut screen time early: No more multimedia noise. When we look at our phones, we’re constantly scrolling, clicking, messaging, watching. It keeps the mind buzzing in a way that makes it difficult to shut off. Avoid the temptation; set it aside an hour before you plan to go to sleep.

Third: Don’t listen to music to help you doze off. Instead, combine breathing exercises with visualization.

Recent studies have shown that music (even calming instrumental music) actually makes falling asleep — and getting a restful night’s sleep — problematic. What happens is that the music creates an “earworm” that the mind repeats, making it difficult to unplug and enter into restorative sleep patterns.

Instead, combine two effective calming techniques to release “noise” in the mind and lower your heart rate and blood pressure. First, close your eyes and picture a pleasurable scene — either from a memory or just something that elicits feelings of calm and happiness.

As you picture this, start a careful “boxed” breathing routine. Inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and repeat. Continue the breathing exercise eight to 10 times, and then let your body and mind sink into the scene you’ve chosen. You’ll find this relaxes you enough to fade into sleep — and that your sleep is more restful.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s