11 Effective Bedtime Routines for Adults

March 31, 2020 | Casper Editorial Team

Creating a bedtime routine for adults is one of the smartest things that you can do for yourself. After running around in mental overdrive, you can slow down and focus on what matters the most.
The major benefit of having a bedtime routine is that it’s catered to you. Studies have shown that insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders. Stress from a busy workday and active personal life can cause sleep anxiety. Creating a bedtime routine puts your body in a relaxed state. By the time you’re finished, your body should feel relaxed and ready for lights out.

11 Bedtime Routines for Adults to Help You Sleep

Since no two bedtime routines are the same, we’ve collected our favorite ideas below. Keep reading for inspiration to create a bedtime routine of your own.

Your bedtime routine should feel easy and be about taking care of yourself. It may take a few nights to set in, but be patient. Weekends can be tricky with social events and evening activities, but if you keep it simple, the nightly ritual can pay off in major sleep dividends.

1. Set an Alarm to Signal Preparing for Bed

You should start your bedtime routine at a consistent time each night. You can set an alarm or notification on your phone using the iPhone sleep timer or an Android mobile app. It will be a help signal that it’s time to unplug and start your bedtime routine.

2. Eat Light and Healthy Before Bed

Eating late meals and drinking alcohol before bed can create unhealthy sleep habits and encourage weight gain. Try limiting your eating window to 10 hours per day, to improve your metabolism and sleep quality. In case you do get the late-night munchies, try healthier food options like oatmeal, yogurt, or nuts to boost your melatonin levels before bedtime.
Having an evening nightcap or treat could be working against you. Alcohol is a depressant, which can make you sleepy while drinking. However, the effects wear off quickly, lowering melatonin levels and disrupting your circadian rhythm, which can delay REM sleep and cause insomnia. If used as part of a nightly routine, the tolerance increases, requiring more alcohol to reach a state of drowsiness.

3. Create a Pre-Bedtime Playlist

Making a bedtime playlist can help you start letting go of mental attachments. Psychology studies have shown that listening to music can help encourage sleep and improve sleep quality. In one sleep study, 62 percent of participants reported using music in their nightly routines to help lessen stress.
Listening to music, particularly classical music, has been found to help with sleep, but don’t feel obligated to listen to a specific genre. Try some R&B, bossa nova or jazz. As long as it helps your sleep routine, it should help you sleep more soundly.
Outside of music, there are new trends in audio sleep aids that can get the job done. Color noises are audio engineered soundwaves that emit frequencies that interact with the brain. For example, white noise resembles snow on a TV screen. Pink noise is softer like rainfall or the first snow. Brown noise is deep and soothing like the ocean.
These color frequencies help slow thoughts, relax muscles and dissolve anxiety. Download a color noise app, or explore different color noise channels on YouTube. From there put on your head phones and slide into bed.

4. Lower the Lights and the Thermostat to Hibernate

The circadian rhythm regulates the body’s temperature, which normally runs at 98.6 degrees. Lowering the thermostat to 65 degrees is a good temperature for sleep. The body will adapt to the lower room temperature and you will begin to feel drowsy.
Turning off or lowering bright lights can help with the process. As we know with screen time, exposure to bright lights before bedtime affects the circadian rhythm. Creating a cozy, cool and dark sleeping space will help set your circadian rhythm to sleep mode.
Having a sound sleep routine makes you look forward to the end of the day. Once you build it into a consistent habit, you should feel the benefits tenfold.

5. Wash off Stress in the Shower or Bath

Taking a shower or bath one or two hours before bed lowers the body’s temperature and encourages healthy sleep. Even if you’re a morning bather, it feels good to wash off the day.
In the morning, you’re often rushed, so showering at night allows you to take your time. Try taking a sleep aid before you step into the shower or bath to help relax your mind and body.

6. Turn off Electronic Devices Before Bed

Screens from TVs, smartphones and laptops emit blue light that stimulates the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm), keeping you buzzing long after it’s time to hibernate for the night.
Sleep studies have shown that exposure to high amounts of blue light before bed can lower melatonin levels, resulting in sleeplessness and delayed REM sleep. It’s recommended to shut off screens 30 to 45 minutes before sleep. When it comes to getting a full night’s rest, there’s a fine line to walk between sleep and technology. Wait until morning to binge-watch Netflix or check your Instagram. They’re not going anywhere.

7. Reduce Anxiety With a To-Do List

Creating a to-do list prevents the mind from worrying about tomorrow’s tasks. Bedtime writing is a mental dump of information that organizes future responsibilities and allows you to release anxiety. When you wake up in the morning, you’ll have an itinerary ready to start the day.
If you’re up for more mental cleaning at bedtime, then a longer writing session may be in order.

8. Jot Down Your Thoughts in a Journal

Journaling is good for mental health by reducing stress and helping you remember good ideas before sleep. You don’t need to write a novel in a night, but you can address the thoughts and emotions that you’ve been putting on hold all day. Put some chamomile tea in your favorite mug, put pen to paper and let it flow. By taking 10 to 15 minutes, you may be surprised at how many lines get filled.

9. Relax Your Muscles With a Quick Foam Rolling or Yoga Session

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Using foam rolling and yoga for sleep will help relax your muscles and ground your mind before bed. They decelerate the mind and body, relieve tension and improve sleep quality.
Foam Rolling
Foam rolling, also known as myofascial release or trigger point therapy, can reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. Similar to a massage, it relaxes tight muscles and increases blood flow. You’ll go from being stiff as a board to a ball of putty in no time.
Yoga is the ultimate grounding practice. Poses like downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), cat-cow (Chakravakasana) and child’s pose (Balasana) push stress out of hamstrings, shoulders and lower back. Other positions will loosen muscles that you didn’t even know were tight. For best results, listen to your bedtime playlist and focus on breathing and calming yourself.

10. Top Off the Night by Drinking Something Warm

Drinking a warm cup of tea or your favorite beverage can warm you up and get you in the mood for bedtime. Chamomile tea has been used for centuries to treat sleep disorders and insomnia. For kids, drinking warm milk can help encourage sleep. As adults, chamomile is the bedtime go-to.
Turmeric is a superfood that helps you sleep and can help combat depression and inflammation, plus provide pain relief. The herb can be purchased at the grocery store or at a local farmer’s market. Turmeric can be a little bitter, so try creating a bedtime concoction like turmeric golden milk to sweeten up the flavor.

11. Open up Your Senses With Aromatherapy and Essential Oils

Essential oils and aromatherapy are used to help with stress management. Various parts of flowers are pressed into an oil that gives off soothing fragrances. These oils can be applied to the skin or placed in a diffuser.
Intensive care patients frequently use essential oils as an alternative to sleep medications, but it can just as easily be used for regular bedtime as well. Try putting a little lavender and cedar into your diffuser before crawling underneath the covers.
Essential oils and aromatherapy may not work for everyone, especially if you’re sensitive to the smells or allergic, but it’s worth a shot.

How Long Should My Bedtime Routine Be?

Your bedtime routine should be between 30 to 60 minutes. This will give you enough time to unwind without feeling rushed. The goal is to build consistency, which will train your body for sleep and encourage productivity the next day.
One study found that children who have a consistent nighttime routine showed improvement in overall mood. Translate that into your bedtime routine for adults and you should feel improvements in your mental and emotional states.
Creating a bedtime routine can help you unwind and close the day. Once you’ve relaxed and are ready for bed, climb onto your comfy mattress with your favorite pillow and doze off into dreamland.