A good bedtime routine is important to help your mind and body wind down at the end of the day. The Power Down Hour™ is our take on what you can do leading up to sleep that'll help you get more out of the time you spend in bed.
In the morning, you don't just wake up, get dressed and walk out the door. You have some kind of routine that could involve: opening the blinds, taking a shower, exercising, taking care of the family, eating breakfast, etc.
It takes time to warm up...the same way it takes time to wind down. In a way, going to bed is just like getting up in the morning but in reverse.
In the 7 Steps to Sleep Fitness (the Zeo email-based coaching program), an entire step is devoted to "Adopting a Power Down Hour". Our Knowledge Center article on the topic gets into the details on why, but the basic idea is that you divide that hour into three 20-minute periods:
20 minutes to get into bed, relax, and slip into sleep.
While such sharp time divisions may feel awkward at first, there are a few things you can do to help manage your time while getting ready for bed...
Here are 5 quick steps for a successful Power Down Hour™
If you've decided that bedtime is 11pm, note that you should be in your bedroom at 10:40pm and in the bathroom showering or brushing your teeth at 10:20pm. That way, when you look at the clock, you can remind yourself where you should be at that point in your Power Down Hour. Personally, I've found that it helps me from pushing my bedtime back as I start to view each period as a specific, unmovable appointment.
In the morning, youopen up the curtains and let light in; do the reverse when it comes to going to bed. Turn off lights in rooms that no one is using, close the blinds and curtains, and dim the lights in rooms that are still in use. I like to do a quick sweep of the kitchen floor as a way of signaling to myself that this (high-traffic) room is closed for the evening and ready for tomorrow.
Chances are that you don't really need to unload the dishwasher right before you go to bed. Get into the habit of leaving a few (quick) things for the morning or even later the next day as a way of disengaging from your day. In doing so, you redirect your attention to yourself and how you feel (which is hopefully sleepy and ready for bed!), and not to the needs or whims of others.
When you're trying to wind down but you're partner is not, it could generate unnecessary stress and tension. If you haven't already, explain to them what it is you're trying to do and how their help and support would be needed and appreciated. Try brushing your teeth at the same time to help establish a mutual bedtime routine. If you and your partner are on different sleep schedules, choose a place in your house or apartment where their (hopefully quiet) activities won't disturb you.
You want to train your body to recognize that last 15 minutes in bed means that it's time for sleep. Do do this, get used to the way your bed feels and how your room looks at night right before you fall asleep. Reflect on how comfortable and cozy everything is. Hopefully, as you relax into your pillow and feel the enveloping weight of your bedspread you'll be reminded of how peaceful and comfortable sleep actually is.
If sleep just isn't happening and you're rolling around for 30 minutes+, it's better to get out of bed and to do something relaxing until you're tired again than to keep tossing and turning.