If you’ve ever been working out and you just can’t seem to get a good rhythm going, most likely that lack of performance that you’re experiencing is related to the quality of sleep that you are achieving. If you’re not getting the proper amount of rest at night, this will make a huge impact on you at the gym, and even in your everyday activities. That’s why it’s important to take the necessary steps towards creating a sleep routine that you plan on sticking with so that you can improve your general wellness and help you get the most out of your workouts (and life) as well.
A sleep routine may sound like something that is geared more towards children or young adults, but they can be just as important for adults to maintain for a variety of reasons. If you commit to creating a sleep schedule and actually use it, the quality of your rest will improve over time, which will lead to other health benefits, including improved brain function, reduced stress and enhanced moods, better metabolic rates, and lessen your chances of getting sick.
When it comes to creating a sleep routine, there is no downside – just make sure you stick with it and you will undoubtedly reap many long-term benefits.
Factors to Consider When Creating A Sleep Routine
There are many misconceptions out there about sleep and its importance. One is that adults need less sleep as they get older – that isn't true because older adults still need the same amount of sleep as they always did. But sleep quality can get worse as you age, which is something to take into consideration. Another sleep myth is that you can “catch up” on the days when you only can achieve a few short hours of rest.
Sleep professionals are finding that this largely isn’t the case, as keeping a consistent sleep schedule is far better for you than trying to sleep extra on the weekend to make up for a lack of sleep during the week. It never truly balances out, so that “catch up” people are looking for is never actually achieved when they sleep longer.
Research suggests that maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help you get better quality rest – and more of it, which will bring about other health-related benefits including improved body composition (especially in the elderly) and a lower risk of heart disease, which will help you live longer. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, people who get adequate sleep tend to have improved learning, an easier time making decisions, better emotional well-being, boosted moods, lower risk of diseases, better immune function, and increased performance compared to those with sleep deficiencies, according to. These are benefits that we can all enjoy.
When you are creating your own sleep schedule, it’s important to be mindful of your own internal clock. There are approaches that may work for the majority of people, they aren’t applicable to everyone because we all have different needs. The schedule that works best for you and your body is based on your chronotype, which is your biological preference for mornings or evenings. Your chronotype is something that is essentially built into your DNA, and creating a chronotype-dependent schedule should be based on when you naturally produce more of the hormone melatonin, which gets you into rest mode, and less of the hormone cortisol, which can be disruptive to the process of sleeping.
Usually, it can be nearly impossible to alter your chronotype, so it’s best to just be aware of it and work with it, instead of against it, as you move forward with establishing your sleep routine. Some people are morning people, and some people enjoy the night. Be sure to fully understand which type of person you are before you start planning and adhering to a sleep schedule.
Best Practices For Creating A Sleep Routine
So the question is - how exactly do you successfully create a sleep routine? The first step is to create a general schedule that you can stick to, which will help you align with your waking and sleeping cycles, something that is also known as your circadian rhythm. That means you need to be consistent with when you go to bed and when you wake up every day – even on weekends.
Here are several things to keep in mind as you begin to establish your sleep schedule:
Avoid caffeine in the evening: As you probably already know, caffeine is a stimulant, which makes it a substance that is at odds with the concept of sleep. Caffeine can stay in your body anywhere from six to eight hours, so be sure to cut off your caffeine intake before it gets too late.
Limit electronics before bedtime: We’re all addicted to our electronic devices, like computers and phones, which can make it difficult to step away from them. But reducing your screen time before you are planning to go to bed is very important, as their artificial blue light can negatively impact your circadian rhythm. Stop using your electronics at least 60 minutes before you are ready to go to sleep.
Checking your devices from bed is a big no-no if you're looking to get good quality sleep. It's best to disconnect one hour before you plan on sleeping as the blue light from your phone is disruptive to being able to fall asleep quickly.
Try to engage in physical activity every day: One of the best ways to ensure that your body will be ready to go to sleep is to regularly exercise. This will help regulate your energy levels over time, and make sure that your hormone levels are where they should be so that you can enjoy some quality rest time.
Enjoy natural light on a daily basis: Exposure to natural light has many benefits. Not only does it provide your body with Vitamin D, but it also can elevate your mood and it also improves your circadian rhythm too, which makes it easier for you to fall asleep at night.
Avoid alcohol or large meals before it’s time to go to sleep: In order to get good quality sleep, it’s best to try and avoid alcohol or heavy meals before bedtime. Both can prohibit restorative sleep, which makes that period of rest counterproductive for your body.
Don’t stay in bed if you can’t fall asleep: We’ve all had that experience where we go to lay down, and our bodies (or minds) have other plans. If that happens, just get up and try to do a relaxing activity for 20 minutes (like meditation or listening to soothing music, depending on what you like), and then attempt to go to sleep again. You’ll likely be more successful the second time around.
It can take anywhere from seven to ten days for a sleep routine to take full effect, so understand that there will be a period of adjustment that you and your body will go through as you establish your new routine.
Consult With Your Physician
Sometimes, our inability to sleep or stick with a sleep schedule is beyond our control. These problems are called sleep disorders. One sleep disorder is insomnia, which can occur even though you may have the necessary time to sleep and a proper sleep environment to rest in. Insomnia can make you feel tired or unrested during the day, and for some, it can a short-term condition. For others, it can last months or even years, which can be debilitating.
Another sleep disorder is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition when the upper airway becomes blocked while you are sleeping. This blockage reduces or stops airflow, which can wake people up repeatedly during the night. Sleep apnea can be extremely dangerous and if left untreated, it will most likely lead to other health problems.
If you’re experiencing serious issues when it comes to your sleep habits, it is always best to consult your doctor or with a sleep specialist who can help pinpoint solutions to the challenges you are facing. Remember, sleep is a biological necessity and you should always make sure to prioritize your rest in order to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Once you create and stick to your sleep routine, you’ll be able to enjoy the long-term benefits of a more restful bedtime, which will help you in every facet of your lifestyle if done right.