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Sleep Experts Do These 6 Things Before Bed – Do You?

Hayley Dawes
22 March 2023

While each of us have a unique routine, many are united by a few key common threads. From biohackers to breathwork teachers, health professionals of all stripes take the following steps to support their sleep:

  1. They start their sleep routines in the morning

Many health pros start thinking about winding down the moment they wake up. They do this because the morning hours are prime time to regulate our internal clocks and support a steady sleep-wake cycle. Once the sun goes down, avoiding light as much as possible is the name of the game.

It is important to pay attention to the role that light plays in regulating our circadian rhythms in our sleep routine. Try to make a point of getting actual sunshine into your eyes as early in the morning as possible. “I wear blue-blocking glasses from sunset until bedtime to block our blue-spectrum light that would otherwise suppress my melatonin and disrupt my circadian rhythm,” Ellen Vora, M.D., writes in her routine.

Beyond 5-10 minutes of light exposure, a few popular “windup” rituals the experts share include taking a cold shower and visualising how they want the day ahead to go.

  1. They track their sleep in one way or another

Nearly 50% of the experts featured currently use an Oura ring or another type of sleep-tracking device, while the other half judge their sleep quality based on how they feel in the morning. All of them agree that keeping tabs on sleep in some form or fashion is helpful for identifying the habits that most hinder rest.

Features of many devices available vary, but some common capabilities include:

Sleep duration

By tracking the time you’re inactive, the devices can record when you fall asleep at night and when you stir in the morning.

Sleep quality

Trackers can detect interrupted sleep, letting you know when you’re tossing and turning or waking during the night.

Sleep phases

Some tracking systems track the phases of your sleep and time your alarm to go off during a period when you’re sleeping less deeply.

Environmental factors

Some devices record environmental factors like the amount of light or temperature in your bedroom.

Lifestyle factors

Some trackers prompt you to enter information about activities that can affect sleep, such as how much caffeine you’ve had, when you’ve eaten or whether your stress level is high.

  1. They don’t stress over one bad night of sleep

Experts agree that one night with a low sleep score isn’t the end of the world. As clinical psychologist and sleep specialist Shelby Harris, PsyD, DBSM, writes in her routine, “One of my big issues with how sleep is portrayed in our current culture is the idea of perfection, that you ‘need’ to get optimal sleep quality and duration every single night. But the reality is that this is not possible for most people.”

Everyone admits to the occasional bad bedtime habit. Drinking wine late at night, watching TV in bed, and scrolling on social media until the early hours of the morning are all things they do from time to time. This shows there’s no shame in straying from your sleep routine. It’s about progress, not perfection. 

  1. They take sleep supplements

Even those with the healthiest habits can use a little help in the sleep department every now and again. Sleep supplements featuring CBD have been shown to improve sleep duration and sleep quality.   

Circadian rhythm disorders, also known as sleep-wake cycle disorders, occur when the body’s internal clock, which dictates when you fall asleep and when you wake up, is misaligned with your environment. Circadian rhythm disorders can develop when there are changes in sleep habits, often due to travel or work, or as a by-product of a medical condition, ageing, or genetics.

CBD may improve both the quality and quantity of sleep by ensuring the body progresses through the normal stages of sleep and REM sleep without undue interruption, which would help people with circadian rhythm disorders. CBD’s action on cannabinoid receptors initiates a cascade of events that culminates in a more natural timing of sleep relative to the circadian rhythm of night and day.

  1. They don’t eat too close to bedtime

Many experts correlate eating at night with better sleep. No matter your ideal bedtime, it is always good to aim to eat dinner at least three hours before lights out. This gives our bodies ample time to digest our final meal, improving sleep quality. It allows your body time to digest your food so you’re not up at night with an upset stomach, indigestion, or acid reflux. It helps you stay asleep.

Time-restricted eating can be a habit that many of us also share. Research has shown that time-restricted eating really is one of the best free tools we have to improve metabolism and gene health. Of course, eating early will not be possible every night, and on the occasion that you need to eat later, just be sure to choose foods that are easier to digest.

Some good night-time snacks include complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits or veggies, or a protein or small portion of fat. This snack will give you a little energy going into bedtime, keep you full all night and keep your blood sugar stable while you sleep. Don’t go to bed hungry.

  1. They take sleep seriously

“Sleep is truly the foundation on which healthy lifestyles and health itself rests,” highlights Wendy Troxel, Ph. D. While getting by on a few hours of rest used to be a badge of honour, these routines show that getting more sleep is really what’s worth the bragging rights. All experts agree – sleep is essential for success and sets the foundation for a fulfilling day.

Increased awareness of the importance of sleep and systemic action on sleep should be a priority. Taking sleep seriously and understanding the many ways sleep interacts with our lives can help us harness its potential as a powerful way to promote and protect good mental health for all.

Sleeping badly can have a negative effect on our mental health. Increased awareness of the importance of sleep, and systemic action on sleep, should be a priority. Sleep problems can be both a symptom of, and a contributor to, mental health problems. Treatment for sleep problems can help improve mental health.