How Well You Sleep Depends on What You Do Before Bed

How Well You Sleep Depends on What You Do Before Bed

Last update: 14 December, 2018

What you do before bed matters a lot if you want to get a good night’s sleep. Read on for practical tips and advice.

There are a lot of factors that determine how well a person sleeps. What you do before bed plays a big role in how well you sleep because your habits and patterns have a lot to do with what goes on in your body when you sleep.

Sleep doesn’t just physiologically affect your body, but your brain as well. When you sleep, your brain processes what you’ve learned and does work related to memory. Your body rests physically and mentally.

At bed time, the human body goes through a series of processes. Blood pressure decreases along with respiratory and sensory functions. This is how the body relaxes and rests.

The time before bed and what you do in it is important so that your body can get into a state of relaxation needed in order to sleep. Your bedtime habits are crucial.

For example, eating a big meal right before bed will keep your digestive system active. The same thing happens with your brain if it’s too stimulated right before trying to sleep.

The Best Things to Do Right Before Bed

A woman looking at fruit and milk in the fridge at night.

You need to prepare your body for sleep. Just like a machine, your body needs to be programmed to activate and deactivate itself. You can program your body with bedtime habits and rituals. Get your body used to routines that will help you sleep well.

  • Have a light dinner. Food greatly influences how easily you will fall asleep. Eating a big meal or sugary food will make it harder to fall asleep.
  • Stay away from complex carbohydrates because of their high sugar content and because many foods stimulate not only the body but also the brain.
  • Limit liquids. Some people are used to drinking a glass of water before bed. However, it’s best to not drink anything for an hour before bed. Also, the last thing you drink should be a relaxing tea.
Listening to music before bed.

  • Listen to relaxing music. Some people use music to help them sleep. If you do, we recommend classical music, and keeping the volume low. You could also try ocean sounds or other white noise to relax.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night. Keeping a routine is very important for your body. It’s also important if you want a good night’s sleep. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day gets your body used to resting.
  • Take a walk around the house. Walking around the house is a good habit to get into before bed. Why? Because when you walk, you let your worries out and give your brain a chance to rest. You can take advantage of the time to reflect on your day and prepare for tomorrow.
  • Do breathing exercises in bed. Inhale and exhale consciously and slowly to release tension. The extra oxygen it sends to your brain will help with any anxiety, too.
  • Do physical activity before bed. It’s proven that exercise before bed relaxes you. A body that has just worked out naturally feels the kind of tiredness that it needs to fall sleep. There’s a caveat though: avoid competitive sports right before bed. Competition stimulates your brain and keeps it on alert, which could cause problems falling and staying asleep.

Things Not to Do Before Bed

A girl looking at her cell phone.

In order to get a good night’s sleep, there are some bad habits to avoid too. Good sleep doesn’t just happen by itself.

  • Don’t use electronics in bed. Cell phones and computers stimulate your brain too much. If you have to get on your cell phone before bed, do it while taking a little walk.
  • Don’t sleep with the TV on. Exposure to images, colors and sounds stimulates your brain. Sleeping with the TV on has the same effects as being on your cell phone in bed.
  • Don’t drink stimulating beverages at night. Say no to coffee, tea, and chocolate before bed. They can make it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep.
  • Don’t go over your to-do list before bed. Some people are in the habit of reviewing their calendar or to-do list before bed. It’s not a good idea; the anxiety may keep you up.

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