4 Simple Habits of People Who Always Go to Bed on Time

published Mar 24, 2020
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You know you need to get good sleep to thrive in the rest of your life. So why does physically getting up and going to bed at a decent hour so cumbersome? Some of the hardest parts of adulting are the ones that feel high-stakes, according to Rajkumar Dasgupta, MD, a sleep medicine doctor and Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

“It’s such a commitment every day to maintain your sleep schedule and focus on sleep, and it only takes one day to mess up that entire schedule,” he says.

But the issue isn’t necessarily personal. Hustle culture (not to mention Netflix and Hulu) don’t make it easy to go to bed at a decent hour (nor, of course, do the events of the last few weeks). So what’s the secret? Dasgupta says prioritizing a bedtime routine, even a simple one, can be the missing puzzle piece for people who struggle to get to bed on time.

If you’re hoping for some much-needed shut-eye, and the motivation to prioritize it, here are four things you can do to make adult bedtime easier.

Turn the lights down early in the evening

As relaxing as your home might be, there are also plenty of visual cues for everything you have to do. That said, winding down can feel like an insurmountable task when your home keys you up. Interior designer Sarah Barnard says installing a dimmer—or lowering your lights an hour or two before bedtime—can help you make the switch from day to night, limiting the desire to indulge in high-energy activities. “Low lighting will naturally slow your pace and ease the transition into sleep,” she says. 

Turn the thermostat down, too 

It’s well known that humans typically sleep better in colder temperatures. But turning down the thermostat before bed can motivate you to actually hop into bed, too. Jeanine Joy, PhD, a motivational speaker and editor of Bestmattress.reviews, says you’ll be more likely to shift gears and move into your warm bed if it’s chilly in your home. (Another motivator: You’ll also have an excuse to cuddle up with your partner or pet!)

Leave something on your nightstand that excites you

Getting your PJs on and hunkering down under the covers will be a lot more appealing if you have something to look forward to when you get there. Life coach Stacy Caprio recommends keeping a book (or magazine) you actually want to read next to your bed, then letting yourself read it for 30 minutes before you doze off. “Having a book you want to read right next to your bed will help motivate you to get into it, and you’ll have the added benefit of not having blue-light exposure right before bed,” she says. Or treat yourself to a special body cream or essential oil you only use when you’re in bed—a trick suggested by Lynell Ross, a certified health and wellness coach and founder of Zivadream. The key is to make bedtime a luxury you look forward to each day.

Do your bedtime routine at the same time every single night

Rose MacDowell, Chief Research Officer at Sleepopolis, recommends setting up a before-bed routine that’s the same every night, and sticking to it—in the same order, and at the same time each night. For example, you could do your skincare routine, put on a mask, change into your pajamas, and brush your teeth, all before switching off the lights. “Sticking to these habits consistently,” MacDowell says, “will help condition your body to wind down and feel sleepy at the same time every night.”