Sleep is essential for physical and mental health and for helping to manage symptoms for those with chronic illness. Many things promoted to improve sleep cost money and can be expensive. However, improving your sleep doesn’t have to cost a penny! Here is my nighttime routine to sleep better, with 5 easy things that are free to do and so affordable and accessible for everyone. It’s allowed me to fall asleep quicker, wake fewer times during the night and wake up with more energy in the morning.
Disclaimer: This post is intended for informational purposes only. This is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for medical advice. Please consult a qualified practitioner if you have any questions regarding medical problems. This post may contain affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you I will earn commission if you click on a link and make a purchase. See my full disclaimer here.
Sleep is vital for physical and mental health. It:-
- Boosts our immune system,
- Increases our energy,
- Eases anxiety and stress and
- Improves mood, just to name a few benefits (1).
Sleep is something that has the biggest impact on how I feel each day yet it’s often the thing I struggled most with. When researching ways to improve sleep, the following are commonly recommended:-
- Blue light blocking glasses,
- Melatonin powder,
- Herbal teas,
- Exercise early in the day.
These things cost money and can be expensive, while advice like exercising early in the day is unattainable for those with chronic illness who are unable or have a limited capacity to exercise.
free 5 step nighttime routine to sleep better
However, improving your sleep doesn’t have to cost anything! Below is the 5 step nighttime routine I go through every evening to help me sleep better. All 5 things are free and, therefore, accessible and affordable for everyone.
N – No screens 2 hours before bed
Artificial light from phones, laptops and tv’s etc. causes the production of melatonin, the hormone which causes us to feel sleepy, to be switched off. This causes us to feel more alert at bedtime, resulting in us taking longer to fall asleep, wake more times during the night and wake up feeling fatigued in the morning (2).
Related post: 10 Free Ways To Improve Your Health
I – In bed by 10pm
Between 10pm and 2am is when the deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs, with every hour of sleep before midnight worth two after (3). Failing to get sufficient deep sleep during these hours increases the risk of waking up in the middle of the night between 2am-4am and makes it more difficult to get back to sleep when our sleep becomes shallower and more superficial(4).
G – Gratitude
Listing 3-5 things you’re grateful for is the most commonly recommended gratitude practice. Listing these things eases anxiety and stress, prevents us laying in bed mulling over negative thoughts and has been shown to cause people to fall asleep quicker, sleep for longer and feel more refreshed in the morning (5).
H – Have dinner by 7pm
Foods can take up to 3 hours to be fully digested. Consuming foods too close to going to bed means your digestive system won’t have finished digesting dinner before sleeping and so will still be active instead of resting like it should be. This can disrupt sleep and cause digestive problems (6).
Related post: 6 Free Ways To Start A Toxin Free Lifestyle (& Why It’s Important For Health)
T – Take time to unwind
Activities like prayer, slow deep breathing exercises and restorative yoga activate the parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest system, which promotes relaxation and has been shown to improve sleep by allowing us to fall asleep quicker, wake fewer times during the night and increase the amount of deep sleep we get, causing us to feel more energised and refreshed in the morning (7, 8, 9).
other sleep blog posts
OTHER BLOG POSTS ON HEALTH AND WELLNESS
Click to read my other blog posts with tips and strategies that are helping me improve my health and wellbeing:-
- Anxiety & Stress Relief – 15 Things To Do In Bed
- Healthy Food Swaps For Any Dietary Requirement
- Vagus Nerve Exercises – 12 Ways To Improve Physical & Mental Health
- 15 Easy Ways To Reduce Chemicals In Your Home (& Why It’s Important For Health)
- 5 Tips To Maximise The Health Benefits Of Sunlight
- 5 Simple Swaps To Ease Morning Anxiety & Stress
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I hope these tips are helpful. Do you have a nighttime routine to sleep better? What does your bedtime routine involve? I’d love to know. Leave me a comment below or message me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube.
10 thoughts on “Nighttime Routine To Sleep Better – 5 Steps”
I’ve suffered from chronic insomnia since university and have 20+ years of experience living with lack of sleep. I did some sleep studies back then and tried a bunch of different things and then gave up for a while to enjoy my 20s. Just before I left for China in 2003 at age 27, I was talking to a friend who recommended a book called Lights Out and it includes all the tips you mention here. It’s interesting because since then, I’ve continued to see sleep specialists and I’ve also read as many books as I can get my hands on to figure out why my strict sleep routines don’t work. I’ve tried everything and I’m often up until 2am or 3am in the morning, even with no electronics and a strict bedtime routine. It’s exhausting staying on top of all of it and not getting the reward of good sleep. However, I think I’d be far worse if I didn’t follow the tips you mention here. A dark room, no electronics (I unplug everything), an early meal, and a cold room are all essential for me. Perhaps one of these days I’ll catch those elusive Zzzs!
Such simple tips and important reminders. I definitely need to pay better attention and mainly be more disciplined with my sleep and sleeping routines. I’ve always been a night owl like my mother, but always dream of being a chirpy morning lark :p Ironically I do my most creative work at 5am if I actually manage to wake up 😉
Excellent advice. I sleep well and it’s because I follow the given advice including the tips you mention here. However, last night I got carried away looking through old photos and videos on my phone, then I couldn’t get to sleep for ages. Luckily the only work on my list today is boring old housework! 😴
Thank you very much Gloria. These tips have helped improve my sleep so much too. Ah I’m sorry to hear that, I think we’ve all had nights like that where we forget the useful tips we’ve learnt and struggle to sleep. I hope you’re feeling better and more refreshed today!
I can tell you from personal experience that not having the proper rest can negatively affect your chronic illness. I’ve been trying the no screen time right before bed but it’s tough.
I have exactly the same experience as you Millicent, sleep is so vital for everyone. Staying off screens really is tough but it’s helped improve my sleep so much.
Great tips 🙂 I suffer from anxiety & depression due to a life-changing illness. Over the years, I struggle with insomnia and fatigue. The trouble I have is being a night owl so getting well needed sleep before 12am is rare. I’m going to limit screen time!
Thank you so much Lucy 🙂 I’m so sorry to hear that, you’re not alone. I have a chronic illness too, which has caused me to struggle with anxiety, depression, fatigue and sleep difficulties. I used to be a night owl too but these tips really help me fall asleep earlier, sleep better and have more energy. I hope and pray they help you too. Keep me updated with how you are getting on 🙂 Wishing you all the best. Take care.
Excellent post, Lucy. Sleep is so important. Some nights, I find sleep comes easier than others. I do have a very bad habit of using my phone before trying to sleep when I should be winding down. Thanks for the helpful post. It’s full of great tips.
Thank you so much Elizabeth, I really appreciate it. I’m sleeping a lot better than I used to but like you still have the odd bad night. Using my phone before bed was one of my worst habits too, fortunately most nights I seem to be disciplined at switching it off a couple of hours before now. I’m so pleased you found the tips helpful.