Bedtime Routines

For some hitting the hay comes easy. For others it becomes a struggle night after night. Here are some ideas on how to get to bed easier.

From the time we are babies the experts preach bedtime routines. This doesn’t change as we get older – I think we just quit listening as closely.

Enjoy Mario, He’s pretty funny and has some good things to add to your routine!

Routines help us adjust to our activities of daily living so we can trigger physical responses without too much thought. Think about how you respond to a favorite song, a smell, or your drive to work automatically. Creating a bedtime routine can work wonders for those trying to get enough sleep on a consistent basis.

Here are some ideas:

  • Dim the lights around the house
  • Play restful / soft music – music effects our heart rates – think group x class – that’s why they keep the tunes pumping. Not what you want at bedtime. Pick something that soothes you and slows you down.
  • Light candles
  • Use a calming scent – lavender, chamomile, etc – in linen sprays, candles, or sachets
  • Take a warm bath
  • Read
  • TURN OFF THE TV & COMPUTERS – the screens are actually moving in ways your eyes and brains have to keep up with. So even when we may feel it is unwinding us, too close to bedtime it keeps our brains working hard making it harder to transition to sleep.
  • Drink calming or herbal teas
  • Invite your family to participate in the routine by reading together, sharing quiet stories about the day, or just being quiet
  • Practice yoga or other breathing / stretching activity

Whatever you choose to do use the same routine each day – creating a pattern of your behavior allows the body to become more in tune to it. This allows the body and brain to shift into the pattern easier. If you want to be able to shift into sleep easier try using the same music, smells, and activity routines each night to create a pattern for your bedtime.

What’s Sleep Got To Do With It?

So I’m a little behind this week! I was traveling and I needed rest when I got home. What’s so important about sleep? How does a good nights rest help your weight loss efforts?

Not only does getting enough sleep help your body restore as needed it can help you maintain a positive outlook on life. When your body gets enough rest you are more likely to make better food and exercise choices to support your health goals. It has also been shown that when the body is sleep deprived it tends to crave more high glycemic carbohydrate foods.

High glycemic foods are those that quickly impact your blood sugar levels. This is no surprise considering simple carbohydrates are our bodies quickest energy source. However, these are also the energy sources which may be short circuiting your diet. Things like white bread, sugary drinks, and candy may help you feel more energy for the short term but leave you more tired after the “crash”. Typically they contain less nutrients and cause you to consume more calories in order to meet your caloric needs.

Less sleep also contributes to the grand ole’ excuse of “I’m just too tired to exercise”. If you are too tired and choose watching TV on the couch over a brisk walk outside often enough – the pounds are going to pack on. A solid exercise program can help you get good sleep, too.

When we exercise our core body temperature rises. If it goes up it must come down. Research has shown as the body temperature comes down it is a trigger for sleep. By adding cardiovascular exercise (aerobic) in 5-6 hours before bedtime you may help your body prepare for and fall asleep easier and for a more restful sleep. Be careful in choosing your exercise times, as too much vigorous exercise too close to bed can have the opposite effect causing you to stay up later and shorten your sleep time. Because we are all different some may benefit from a morning exercise routine and others afternoon or evening.

We haven’t even talked about the hormonal effects of sleep or lack there of on the body which can impact how full we feel and how our body signals to eat. Both having direct effects on our caloric consumption, our waistlines, and our ability to exercise.

Bottom line – get your zzz’s for optimal health. Next time we’ll have some ideas to help set the stage for bedtime success.

Change Is Hard

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it happen. You can and why not start today.

Change is hard. It is very hard. The truth is, changing is harder than staying the same, regardless of how I might beat myself up for failing to change. It is easier to continue smoking, eating poorly, or being sedentary even when I know these things are bad for me. Our food choices are based on their ability to fuel our bodies, release “feel good” hormones, and satisfy us, and we seek out activities that provide us pleasure. Pleasure is a personal choice which may not have anything to do with what is best for us.
If you are going to make a change in your life you have to be ready for discomfort – at least for a short while. In the beginning it will seem easier to go with your old routine rather than try a different activity. It will also feel better (comfortable) to stick to the old. Starting something new usually requires a little risk, a little uncertainty, and a little discomfort. The key is to be ready for this discomfort and accept it. Deal with it and use it to your advantage.