With our busy lives, it can be difficult to maintain a fixed routine. To have better quality rest, these are some of the habits we can try to implement in our night-time routine:
1. Setting a ‘screen time’ limit
We should consider swapping our phone, laptop, or tablet screens for a book. It was reported that even 6 minutes of reading can ease the tension of stress in our body. I personally enjoy reading before bed. If it is a short article, I will print it out and scribble notes in the margins!
In limiting our screen time, Apple has a feature that monitors our ‘screen time’. It reports the length of time we spend on our devices and frequency of the applications we use. For social media applications, I set a reminder on my Instagram to tell me if I exceeded my ‘time spent’ limit. You are free to set your own personal time limit!
However, this may not always be practical as most of our jobs – keeping ‘work from home’ in mind – requires the use of screens. If you absolutely have to use them at night, Dr. Chris Winter recommends utilising the “night shift” mode or a similar dimming feature – or consider trying glasses that are designed to block blue light. The blue light emitted by our devices can delay our body’s internal clock and suppress the release of the sleep-inducing hormone (melatonin). These methods also prevent us from straining our eyesight for a prolonged period of time.
2. Fix a time to wake up and sleep
This step not only requires discipline, but also the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Though we can tell ourselves to head to bed by a certain time, we do get carried away with our tasks sometimes. Have some leeway in your routine, but try to stick to a rough number of hours of sleep per night. The National Sleep Foundation breaks down the recommended hours of sleep for each age group.
Set a reminder of when to sleep by, and set your alarm for when to wake up. By setting a time and the number of hours you sleep, you can prevent yourself from feeling lethargic at work the next day.
3. Pamper or treat yourself a little!
Right before we sleep, it is important to relax the body and calm the mind. I highly recommend having some alone time to unwind. This can include putting on a face mask, hydrating, journaling, or having a small snack (only if you are hungry).
Stefani Sassos, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian at the Good Housekeeping Institute, recommends drinking a cup of chamomile tea, which has been found to help with symptoms of anxiety. “A soothing cup of warm, chamomile tea may be just the thing you need to relax after a long day,” she says.
I personally incorporate listening to music as part of my night-time routine. The ability to sleep after listening to music will depend on the genre you are listening to. If you find that the music you listen to creates more adrenaline, try listening to some calming nature sounds – or some white noise to help you fall asleep. A friend of mine listens to the sound of the waves or the rain to help her sleep. Such compilations can be found on music streaming platforms such as YouTube or Spotify.
4. Do some light exercises during the day
Since we are mostly working from home during this pandemic, it is important to set a routine that clearly defines our time for work and rest. Setting time aside to exercise can contribute towards improving our mood and decreasing feelings of depression, anxiety and stress. Additionally, exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings. Exercise also contributes to our sleep quality, as the energy we exert stimulates recuperative processes during sleep.
Regular exercise can help you relax and sleep better. A study showed that 16 weeks of physical activity contributed to an increase in sleep quality. It also helped 17 people with insomnia to have a longer and deep sleep. Overall, exercise helped these participants to feel more energized during the day.
5. Check off your to-do list, and plan for tomorrow!
I realized that I sometimes struggle to fall asleep because my mind would be running through every other thing that I have yet to complete. Instead of being stuck in the loop of going through my remaining tasks, having a routine to check off a to-do list and preparing tomorrow’s to-do list helps! Having this list helps me to rearrange my tasks based on their level of priority. This helps me to space out my work, rather than becoming overwhelmed by everything I have to do. Though it may not always be effective, having an organized list does help me to shut off my thoughts so that I can work on them the next day.