Attention Night Owls: Here’s How to Go to Sleep Earlier
We all know the value of a good night’s sleep, but do you know the value of a good night’s sleep routine? Part of getting your necessary and crucial eight hours is making sure that you have healthy sleep hygiene and a nighttime routine that works to support you and set you up for the next day.
One of the best things you can do, then, when it comes to your sleep hygiene, is to go to bed earlier. Sure, there are times when late nights are inevitable. Big birthdays, Saturday nights out, the night before a major deadline, whenever Netflix drops a must-watch binge series and you just can’t help but watch one more episode… But these should be the exception and not the rule. Getting good sleep is all about setting yourself up for success. And part of that is going to bed earlier and establishing a routine that allows you to get your eight hours before your next day begins.
But how do you break the habit of late nights? How can you train yourself out of being a night owl? Here are a few handy tips:
Take your time
There’s no sense in trying to shift your bedtime all in one go. Take your time making small, incremental changes and you’ll be well on your way to establishing a new routine.
Rather than trying to go cold turkey and hop into bed at nine if you normally would burn the midnight oil, try moving your bedtime (and the next morning’s alarm clock) in 15 or 30-minute intervals. Try it one night and see if it works. If it does, shift your bedtime forward that evening by another 15 or 30 minutes, and so on and so forth until you reach your new preferred bedtime.
If it doesn’t work immediately, simply try again until it does, at which point you can move your bedtime forward again. It might take a while to establish your routine, but it will be worthwhile in the end.
We must sound like a broken record, but one of the worst things that you can do for your sleep hygiene is to look at screens right before you go to bed. Everything from your laptop to your smartphone, tablet and television could be emitting blue light that interrupts your body’s production of melatonin and ruins any chance you have of slipping into a circadian rhythm.
If you’re trying to move your bedtime earlier, try giving yourself a curfew when it comes to devices. Don’t use any screens one hour before bedtime and use that time to quiet your mind with reading, journaling or meditation. All of this will help you nod off earlier and will create good sleep hygiene going forward.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? The more energy you expend during the day, the easier you will find it to go to sleep early. Make sure that you’re moving throughout the day, whether it’s an early morning workout or a lunchtime walk, and you’ll find that you have no trouble going to sleep earlier in the evening.
One thing to remember is that if you like to workout in the evening the physical exertion could have the opposite impact by stimulating your brain and body and making it harder to fall asleep. Try to move your intensive exercises to earlier in the day or, if you like to workout in the evening, make it something light, such as yoga or stretching.
We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’re trying to go to sleep early in the evening you need to stay stimulant-free at night. That means no caffeine in the afternoon or evening, no alcohol, and as little sugar as possible. All of these things work to wake up your brain and body, working in opposition to circadian rhythms that try to quiet the mind and usher in a night of rest.
By eliminating them from your diet, you’re setting yourself up to get to bed early and have a high-quality night’s sleep.
Light it up
Our sleep routines are really sensitive to light. It’s why darkened rooms are the best to sleep, and why sleep masks can be useful for anyone who feels that there is too much light in their bedroom. To help establish an early bedtime routine, try to limit the amount of light you’re exposed to before bed. Dark curtains are great for creating an atmosphere of deep sleep, as are dimming light switches.
When you wake up, the first thing you should do is open the curtains to expose your room to sunlight, reminding your body that it’s time to be awake. If possible, try and get outside to expose your skin to some sunlight. Maybe take your morning coffee and, weather permitting, have it in the sun. Feeling that warmth on your skin is one way to remind your body that it’s daytime, and will help night owls to learn a sleeping/waking schedule that will help them both nod off and get up in the morning.
Let us know how you go, night owls!