How to Make Yourself Go to Sleep on Time

Getting enough sleep can be a difficult feat to accomplish in today’s world. Getting through the day tired and de-energized is rough on a person, both mentally and physically. If you struggle with getting to sleep at a reasonable time, there are a few things you can do. By eliminating distractions in your bedroom and creating a bedtime routine that you follow each night, you can help train your body to get ready for sleep at a normal time.

Preparing Yourself for Bedtime

Avoid caffeine later than six and a half hours before bed. Caffeine is widely known to be a stimulant, often causing people to feel jittery or more alert. Ingesting caffeine before bed, even if you are a regular coffee drinker, can make you feel more alert, delay your sense of sleepiness, and keep you from getting to bed on time.[1]

  • This means avoiding beverages like coffee (even decaf coffee), soda, and non-herbal teas.
  • Chocolate also contains measurable amounts of caffeine. It’s a good idea to skip the chocolate before bedtime as well

  • Stop working at least an hour before bed. It’s important to give your brain a chance to slow down from the day before you try to make yourself go to bed. For this reason, you should stop working (whether it’s job-related or school-related) at least one hour before bed so you can unwind a bit.[2]
    • This also means that you should quit working on homework or other projects at least one hour before you plan to go to sleep.

 

  • Avoid eating meals for at least two hours before sleep. One of the main problems with eating before bedtime is that these most likely constitute as extra calories from an extra meal that may push you over your caloric intake for the day. But eating before bed, especially sugary (or otherwise unhealthy) items can cause a spike in your blood sugar that delays your sleep hormones.[3]
    • A good rule of thumb is to avoid eating for at least two hours before bed.
    • If you must eat something before bed, try to eat something that is high in fiber and low in sugar like apple slices and almond butter, some carrot sticks with hummus, or half an avocado.

Drink some herbal tea. While the jury is still out about whether or not herbal tea actually helps people become sleepier, studies have shown that it does help people feel more relaxed as they drink it. This is equally important when getting ready for bedtime.[4]

  • Try choosing a tea that contains chamomile, lavender, peppermint, spearmint, or lemon grass.
  • Make sure you choose an herbal tea with no caffeine.

Know how much sleep you need. Different people have varying sleep needs. For example, babies need much more sleep each day than adults. And older adults require even less sleep than younger adults. Knowing how much sleep you need each night will help you calculate when you need to set your bedtime.[5]

  • Infants typically need 12-16 hours of sleep per day.
  • Children need 9-11 hours of sleep per day
  • Teenagers require 8-10 hours of sleep each night.
  • Adults typically need 7-9 hours of sleep per day

 

Get ready for bed at the same time every night. Don’t wait until you start to feel sleepy, as this may keep you up longer than you want to stay awake. Additionally, the act of getting ready for bed may make you more alert, causing you to stay up later than your desired bedtime.[6]

  • Set a reasonable bedtime goal that works for your schedule.

Have a bedtime ritual. Doing the same things every night before bed will help signal to your body that it is time to start getting sleepy. Try to create a sleep time ritual that you can perform every night before bed so you get into the habit. This will help you go to bed at the desired time every night.[7]

  • Your bedtime ritual could include things like brushing your teeth, washing your face, setting out your clothes for the next day, packing your lunch for work tomorrow, or taking the dog outside to go to the bathroom.

 

Prepare yourself for the next day. In an effort to reduce your stress at bedtime, it might be beneficial to spend a little time preparing yourself for what you have to do in the morning. Feeling ready for the next day will help you relax and fall asleep more quickly.[8]

  • You can do things like picking out your outfit for the next day, packing your lunch, catching up on correspondence, reviewing notes for a big meeting, creating a to-do list, or organizing your purse/briefcase.

Read in bed. Reading in bed is one of the best ways to relax and destress yourself after a long day. Immersing yourself in another world allows you to forget the worries of your own life and start relaxing your body and your mind as your prepare yourself for sleep.[9]

  • You should start to feel more relaxed and ready for bed after as little as six minutes reading.
  • The genre doesn’t matter. Even reading a suspenseful story will help you relax before bed.

Put your phone on silent mode. One of the best things you can do to ensure that you won’t get distracted while you’re trying to fall asleep is to turn your phone on silent. Nothing is worse than getting jolted awake by the sound of your phone’s ringtone when you are almost fast asleep.[10]

  • Turning your phone on silent will allow you to still receive your messages and check your phone for the time (if you need to) without giving other people the opportunity to distract you and keep you awake.

 

Resist the urge to use electronic devices for an hour before bed. Using the internet before bed can be counterproductive to sleep for several reasons. First, it keeps your mind busy and occupied, which means that your brain can’t begin its wind-down toward bedtime routine. If you read something exciting or interesting, this will make you feel more alert and energized, making it harder for you to fall asleep immediately after.[12]

  • Watching television before bed can be quite disruptive to your sleep patterns. There is a special blue light emitted by electronic screens that suppresses melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep) and keeps you awake longer.[13]
  • This also applies to playing games on your smartphone or tablet as you try to fall asleep. These electronic screens have been proven to prevent people from getting the sleep they need.
  • If you must use a screen before bedtime, try turning the brightness down.

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