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10 Science-Backed Effective Bedtime Routines to Give You More Productive Days

by SleePare

By Emily Stringer | 3 Minute Read

Bedtime routines are not just for the kids. Numerous studies and even personal experiences have shown both bedtime rituals and routines are beneficial to adults as well. Consistent poor sleep is shown to decrease overall health and result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other conditions. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is vital to experiencing quality sleep and staying healthy. 

Taking the time to relax before bed helps you get into the mindset that it is time to sleep and will lead to better sleep overall. Keeping a routine is psychological-the cues from your bedtime routine actions will help you get the sleep you need. Getting the sleep you need will allow you to be more productive during the day. If you want to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to start marking off items on your to-do list, here are a few bedtime routines that will help you sleep and give you more productive days.

For more tips, skip to the infographic below.

1. Unplug

We are constantly surrounded by electronic devices. Whether it’s our phones, computers, or other devices, tech is a must-have to survive in the modern world. However, our lifeline devices can also wreck our sleep and eventually our overall health.

A survey from the National Sleep Foundation found 95% of respondents reported using a computer, playing video games, or using a cell phone at least a few nights a week within an hour before bed which research indicates this is the worst time to catch up on emails or beat the next level in your latest game. The blue light emitted from screens decreases melatonin levels in the brain that tells us it’s time to go to sleep and stimulates your brain. 

Tip: Experts recommend unplugging at least an hour before bedtime for improved sleep. 

2. Step away from work

With many of us working remotely and more companies making the switch from a traditional office to working in our sweatpants, it’s getting more difficult to separate home from work. Not creating boundaries between work and home has negatively impacted the sleep habits and sleep quality of remote workers.

As of April 2020, up to 70% of remote workers have experienced sleep disturbances. To get our sleep back, it’s best to stop working at a set time every weekday to get the feel of a more traditional schedule and work/home life balance.

Tip: Set designated rooms or areas of your home for work. For example, don’t work in your bed or living room. This helps keep the lines between work and home more manageable. 

3. Avoid strenuous exercise

While exercise is proven to help improve sleep, strenuous exercise too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect. Performing exercises like HITT training, intense cardio, CrossFit, or other intense exercise can leave you tossing and turning. These calorie-blasting exercises increase your heart rate, raise body temperature, and stimulate the nervous system causing alertness and wrecking your sleep. 

At night, your blood pressure naturally drops around 20% and exercise can disrupt this process, leaving you in a cycle of exercise-induced insomnia. However, some studies have shown that strenuous exercise only disrupts sleep if it is performed within one hour of bedtime. Other studies show that evening exercise has no impact on sleep, and in fact, can improve sleep. 

Tip: Exercise affects everyone’s sleep differently depending on the type of exercise, health, when you exercise, and more. If working out too close to bedtime causes you to have trouble sleeping, try different exercises at different times of the day and see how your body responds. 

4. Listen to Music or Color Noise 

If you like catching up on your playlist before bed, you’re in luck. Numerous studies have shown that listening to music before bedtime, either classical or slow, rhythmic music can help you get to sleep. Music lowers cortisol levels which helps you fall asleep. Along with music, listening to color noise, like white or pink noise is shown to aid in both falling asleep, staying asleep, and increasing time spent in deep sleep. White noise helps mask background and environmental noises that can be disruptive to many and hinder sleep, while pink noise slows brain waves and induces deep sleep. 

Tip: Try adding listening to music or pink noise before bedtime as a part of your bedtime routine. A study from 2018 found that 62% of people listened to music to fall asleep. Pink noise, a cousin to white noise, is proven to increase the time spent in deep sleep and help you fall asleep.

5. Turn off the TV 

Relaxing with your favorite new show before bed is a favorite pastime. Catching up on the latest episode can end lead to having to catch up on sleep. Numerous studies have shown that watching TV, sleeping with the TV on, or falling asleep to TV can lead to poor sleep. Falling asleep with the TV on can decrease melatonin levels by 22%. Other studies have shown that watching television before bedtime is not harmful as the activity itself is relaxing, especially when watching a familiar show, or comfort tv

Tip: If you regularly fall asleep to TV, try reading or doing another activity before bed and see if your sleep quality improves. If you aren’t sure about the improvement or decline of your sleep quality when watching or not watching TV, try out a sleep tracking app. 

6. Prep for the next day 

Getting ready for the next day can sound like an unnecessary chore and added stress, especially if you haven’t recovered from today’s events. Planning out the next day can help you relax at night. An experiment with college students conducted in 2018 found that the students who wrote down their to-do lists for the following day slept better than those who did not. Writing out a list of tasks “off loads” stress about performing the tasks in the future. 

Tip: Try writing down a to-do list before bed in either a journal or on your phone. Set a reminder or an alarm at a certain time to remind yourself to look at the list before you start your day to make sure you don’t forget anything. 

7. Set an alarm for sleep 

Yes, set an alarm or a reminder to let yourself know that it is time to start winding down for bed. Those who have a finely turned internal clock probably won’t have to do this, but if you have an unpredictable schedule or struggle to get to bed at night, this can be helpful. It’s easy to lose track of time when we’re occupied with another activity at home (like watching another episode of the latest show you’re bingeing). 

Tip: A bed alarm sounds counterintuitive, but an alarm will help you reinforce the importance of sleep. If you have trouble getting to bed, try an alarm for a few weeks until your body adjusts. 

8. Don’t watch the clock

Watching the hours pass by is one of the worst ways to get to sleep. Counting down the hours until you have to get up is usually coupled with tossing and turning. Watching the clock in bed creates extra stress and anxiety about getting back to or falling asleep. 

Tip: Move or turn your clock away from your bed so you can’t “watch the clock”. A light alarm that simulates natural light and sleep/wake cycles can help you establish your circadian rhythm. This will help you wake up naturally with light instead of a clock. 

9. Take a warm bath or shower 

Nothing beats a nice, warm bath or shower before bed. When we hear “relaxing”, many immediately go to a warm bath, scented candles, soft music, and maybe a book. The favorite relaxing ritual of many is backed by science, with numerous studies and evidence showing that a warm bath or shower before bed improves sleep by improving sleep quality and decreases the time it takes to fall asleep. 

Tip: If you live in a warmer climate, experience hot flashes, or are sensitive to heat, contradicting studies show a cold shower before bed can be beneficial as well.  

10. Try some essential oils 

Essential oils are long known to help with relaxation and sleep. Oils like Lavender, Frankincense, Jasmine, and more are proven to help induce sleep. Wind down with some lavender bubble bath, an essential oil candle, or an essential oil diffuser

Tip: Everyone reacts differently to essential oils. Before adding aromatherapy to your routine, do some research, allergy test, and make sure essential oils are safe for you and your family. 

These bedtime routines are proven to help in sleep, relaxation, and for productivity. Along with routines and practicing sleep hygiene, your mattress is also key to getting a restful sleep night after night. If you’ve noticed trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up feeling tired, it might be time to update your mattress. Check out our website, mattress comparison tool, and our sleep guides for even more information about mattresses and sleep advice.

 
Emily Stringer

Emily Stringer


Emily is a sleep expert and content creator at SleePare. With over five years of experience writing and extensive experience reviewing mattresses, curating comparisons and advising on "best of" guides, she's well-versed in mattress technology.

Emily has perfected this method by personally testing over 200 different mattresses, so she's not only able to discern the overall value of a specific bed, but to assign its value to different types of sleepers.

Along with creating honest and straightforward mattress features, Emily enjoys spending time with her dogs and exploring her home town of Lexington, Kentucky.