What do you do the hour before bedtime?
Don’t watch TV in bed, don’t play with your phone before bed, go to bed when you feel drowsy, don’t have caffeine before bedtime…and the list advice on good sleep habits goes on. Good sleep habits are a common but large topic in the sleep world. There is so much advice (some good and some not so great) that it’s hard to know what you really should be doing.
What happens if you are running around your house doing chores, going through work emails, playing games on your phone or tablet, or watching or reading something suspenseful right before bedtime? You have troubles falling asleep, right? What you do the hour before bedtime is important and can significantly affect your sleep.
5 tips on how to manage the hour before bedtime:
1. Plan to wind down about 1 hour before your anticipated bedtime.
If you get distracted or lose track of time easily, set a recurring alarm to remind yourself that it’s time to wind down. For example, if you want to go to bed around 10:30 pm, set it for 9:30 pm. When that reminder goes off, it’s time to relax.
2. Avoid stimulating activities in the hour before bedtime.
What’s stimulating is different for each person, so pay attention to what is alerting to you. If it’s necessary for you do that task, complete it before the hour before bedtime. Examples of stimulating activities may include:
- Doing household chores
- Reading emails (especially those work emails)
- Doing homework or work-related activities
- Watching the news
- Watching or reading something suspenseful
- Playing games (especially those on an electronic device, such as a smart phone, tablet, or computer)
3. Dim the lights and avoid electronics.
Bright lights trick your brain into thinking it’s still daylight. Therefore, if you are exposed to light before bedtime, you don’t get as strong of a drive to go to sleep and stay asleep. Additionally, when most of us are on electronic devices close to bedtime, we are typically doing something stimulating rather than relaxing. More to come on this tip in a future post.
4. Have a bedtime routine.
There is so much emphasis on having a bedtime routine for kids. However, we tend to forget it’s important for adults too. Do the same things every night in the same order before bedtime, so that your brain knows that you are going to do step 1, step 2, step 3, and then get in bed and go to sleep.
5. Avoid alcohol.
Although alcohol makes many people feel drowsy, it can disrupt sleep causing more awakenings especially the second half of the night. It also can cause or worsen other sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Click to read more about the effects of alcohol on sleep.
What do you do the hour before bedtime? Does it help or hinder your sleep? Leave a comment.
Remember to never drive or engage in activities requiring a high level of attention when drowsy.