There's no denying bedtime is one of the most desirable moments of our day. Spreading out like a starfish and just dozing off into a comfortable, golden slumber is what dreams are made of.
However, for a lot of us bedtime means replying to emails on our laptop, catching up on Netflix or tinkering with our smartphones and tablets after tucking in the kids. But these are habits we need to avoid if we expect to wake up alert. Not only can they greatly affect our circadian rhythms, but they hinder our productivity during the day and divert our attention.
Before heading to bed each night, it's essential we adopt better habits for a healthier, more focused tomorrow.
Plan the next day
If you want to have a better tomorrow, avoid stressing out with a little organization and a plan. Start with little things and work your way to a more organized routine that can include everything from the kids' lunches to what you'll wear to that fancy, social shindig. On the contrary, life is hard and things happen out of the blue, but always embrace the situation you're in and practice resilience to make the most of your plans by evaluating what works.
At least an hour prior to sleeping, switch off all devices as blue light tends to disrupt circadian rhythms — also known as our "body clock." Of course, many of us don't keep this rule in mind before heading to bed, but it's a necessary step to unwind our minds. In its place, the University of North Carolina suggests devoting just 20 minutes to meditation before bed. Not only can it relax us, but it sharpens critical cognitive skills for the day ahead. Harvard attributes this advantage to a slow down of brain activity for a deeper, more peaceful sleep. During your session, add positive affirmations into the mix for a bright confidence boost come morning.
Write in a journal
Gratitude is an immense muscle to nurture if we want to feel more at peace with circumstances and ourselves. Before heading to bed, set aside time to express gratitude in a journal or blog to remind you of how blessed you are. That being said, life isn't fairytales or unicorns so it's understandable how some days are not great. But try to adopt the "bright spot theory." If something doesn't work, look at what does work. Through this positive defiance, you're able to recognize blessings, while actively and habitually increasing your own happiness.
Many of us spend long hours cleaning around the house, driving for errands or sitting behind a desk and that can induce a lot of stiffness or tension in numerous parts of your body that prevent relaxation. Before hitting the sack, stretch for five to 10 minutes to help unwind and loosen stiff muscles. If you want to amp up the wellness factor, The National Sleep Foundation suggests sweating before bedtime. Researchers found exercising for roughly 150 minutes a week led to better sleep and a more productive attitude the next day.
While we've heard alcohol makes you sleepy, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholismsuggests it can actually disturb your sleep cycle. Sure, it might help to drift off faster but it can wake you up in the middle of the night. Instead, researchers suggest to drink water before residing into a comfortable dormancy. If you think it causes bathroom runs, think again. The institute found drinking a single glass of water before bed keeps you from waking up mid-sleep. The best part is you wake up hydrated — and with relatively better breath.
Get enough sleep
We all have the ability to stay up late and binge watch our newest addiction on Netflix, but that definitely doesn't mean you should. If you want to feel fresh and more attentive when it comes to those boardroom meetings at 9 a.m., researchers suggest getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Not only does lack of sleep affect your appetite hormones and make you hungrier as per a study from Uppsala University, but the National Sleep Foundation reports it increases your risk for obesity and diabetes.