Studies suggest that reintroducing a bedtime routine as an adult can increase sleep duration and sleep quality. As runners, good sleep is invaluable for training and recovery. After you’ve broken your body down, sleep is one of the key elements to building it back up.
Many parents impose bedtime routines on their children to ensure they get to bed. But at a certain age, parents stop enforcing the bedtime routine and kids don’t enforce it upon themselves. Those kids grow up to become adults, and bedtime for many can become frustrating and stressful (kind of like when they were three years-old).
The National Sleep Foundation encourages people to engage in healthy sleep habits for improved rest.
Recommendations for a bedtime routine are:
Stick to a sleep schedule. Try your best to go to bed and wake up at a similar time everyday, including weekends. Consistency is key when it comes to sleep. A study from Whiting and Murdock suggests that consistent sleep can significantly improve cognitive function. “Our results indicate the importance of consistent sleep routines as well as sufficient sleep duration in order to optimize attentional performance in college students.”
Avoid cell phone use before bed. A study from Social Science & Medicine Journal examines the link between adult phone use and sleep. Many studies have looked at the link in teenagers and adolescents, but few have examined the link in adults. The study looked at 884 Flemish adults aged 18-94. They found, “Bedtime mobile phone use predicted respondents’ later self-reported rise time, higher insomnia score and increased fatigue.” For many people, media use has become a part of their nightly rituals, but consider leaving your phone in another room to charge. If it’s your alarm clock, consider using a watch or buy a clock for your bedroom. When it’s time for bed, go to bed.
Wind down. Consider a wind-down period in the hour leading up to bedtime. Your body needs time to get ready for sleep. Do whatever you need to do to prepare for sleep, and then try a calming activity like reading when getting ready to go to bed.
Create darkness. Light can effect your circadian rhythms. When it’s dark, a signal is sent to your brain to feel tired. Exposing yourself to darkness at night, and light in the morning can help with your sleep rhythms and consistent shut eye.