Bedtime routines are not just for babies. It has been proven that what you do in the very last hour before bed has a significant impact on your overall health. Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman ( author of thinking fast and slow) and his colleagues have shown that how we assess the quality of past experiences depends on: how the experiences felt when they were at their peak (best or worst), and how they felt when they ended. It is our way of summarizing an experience, and this summary is then recollected to remind us of how the experience felt.
Basically, what we do before bed is summarized into a short story and carried over into the next day. If we end that story abruptly, we are left with a compromised sense of well-being. It is imperative to catch your Zen, before you catch your Z’s. Bedtime routines are essential, here a list of what healthy people do before bed:
- Visual Overwriting: This was a tool out of Tim Ferris’ better and faster sleep toolbox. I think he borrowed the term from HTML coding. Regardless, the concept makes a lot of sense, he encourages doing something that’s either mindless or requires most of your attention such that you’re not going over silly stressors. Examples would include playing Tetris, watching a slow documentary, or listening to a podcast.
- Disconnect to connect : Step away from social media and spend time with people you love—even if it’s just a simple game night, watching TV together, or going out for a leisurely walk.
- Read: Getting lost in a book is a great way to quiet down the mental chatter. Some studies suggest that you should pick a book you would not normally read. This creates a shorter attention span, and quicker nod off.
- Drink up: I have recently discovered lemon balm tea, and I have found that drinking something warm before bed is supremely relaxing.
- Munch on Magnesium: Research suggests magnesium plays a key role in our ability to sleep through the night. Try magnesium-rich foods such as pumpkin seeds, dates, spinach. Or if you’re deficient try a magnesium and zinc supplement half an hour before bedtime.
- Never go to bed angry: Try to resolve an argument with your spouse or other, before your head hits the pillow.
- Jot it down: Journaling rears its pretty head again. Reflect on the day and end it on a positive note. Write down a few things you were grateful for to help fuel positive thinking. It’s a lovely way to document all the good times, to then look back on.
- Wind down, don’t crash: Take at least half an hour before bedtime to ease your way into sleep. Dim the lights, unplug, and try to mediate.