Sleep is vital to our health and well-being, yet more than a third of Americans aren’t getting enough. Hundreds of biological processes occur while we snooze — and missing out on them can undermine the immune system, metabolism, cognitive function, emotional stability, and more.
If you have trouble nodding off, developing a bedtime routine could make a difference. Experiment with these five strategies to reclaim the rest you need.
1. Stick to a schedule. Going to bed and waking up around the same time every day is the best way to establish good sleep habits. A 30-minute buffer on either side is fine, but try not to stray beyond that — even on the weekends.
2. Create an electronic sundown. An hour before bedtime, turn off your devices. After dark, the blue light from screens can prevent quality slumber. If you can’t unplug entirely, consider a light-dimming app like f.lux for Apple or Twilight for Android.
3. Establish a ritual. Taking a warm bath, reading a book, and engaging in other restorative practices will keep you occupied without your phone or tablet. Over time, it will also send a signal to your body that it’s nearly time for sleep.
4. Clear your mind. If your brain tends to stay busy even when your body is trying to rest, consider some simple habits that can put yourself at ease before you hit the hay. Prep your breakfast for the next day, make a to-do list, or jot down your worries in a journal.
5. Relax your body. While lying in bed, try this progressive relaxation technique to release lingering tension: Starting at your feet and working up to your neck, slowly tense each of your muscles for five seconds, then release for five seconds.
Still counting sheep? Get more sleep tips at ELmag.com/sleepebook.
This originally appeared as “Get Ready for a Good Night’s Sleep” in the September 2018 print issue of Experience Life.