It was a typical night where I was trying to avoid homework from work and from school. Dr Oz has a guest on who was talking about yet another controversial idea about medicine and sleep. It included several different products to help sleep. He did talk a little about routine but again focused on foods and supplements and homeotherapy. In the end the information was not complete and did not take into account lifestyle and the overall goal of helping people sleep.
When we look we should truly be talking about routines. Sleep routines just like when we were raising our kids help to create a good night sleep. This does not include electrics such a television and cell phones. And every routine needs to be individual to the person creating it. It needs to be easy and it needs to help at the same time each night. It also has to take advantage of the exposure to darkness that allows the body to secrete Melatonin.
If we look at a child’s routine we see the bones of it. You set a bedtime, usually a reasonable one, which will allow them to get enough sleep to be successful the next day. You do a bath routine. You know the things that tell a child it is bed time like brushing teeth, washing his face. They change into comfy sleep clothes and climb into an inviting bed with 1 or two stuffed animals but no more. Then you put a glass of water on the nightstand to help eliminate a complaint, you take time to help relax him or her by reading a story or singing a song, sometimes both. You give a hug and keep to leave the child feeling loved and secure.
So how do we move our life to this without making it boring? I think that it depends on the person. My mind tends to wander and get stuck in the worry mode. For me I use one of three routines. On bad days where I have anger or frustration that needs to be processed I will do yoga because deep breathing and movement helps me to unwind and relax. However, if I am stressed about school and work than yoga does not work and I will try progressive relaxation because it helps me relax the muscles that tend to stay tense. Finally if all else does not work I will listen to a guided imagery because sometimes I need to be led and that works for me. I always read before bed because my brain likes to learn.
Overall it helps to put your routine in words and adjust it until you find what the best is for you. Than you have to do it. The results will help you to sleep better with a shorter sleep onset time. Ultimately better sleep will give you more energy during the day and increase your memory and improve your mood.