8 Reminders When Creating a Bedtime Routine

I have dealt with insomnia at some level for most of my life. Lack of sleep impacts all levels of health and functioning and getting a restful night’s sleep is important.

Unfortunately, life, stress, and insomnia can easily get in the way of this. Developing a routine before bed can go a long way in making it easier to fall asleep. Before developing a routine, it is helpful to understand these 8 reminders.


  1. Routines are important

    When we do something often enough, routines send cues to our bodies that it is time for whatever follows. When you create and follow a bedtime routine, your body will learn that sleep comes after, allowing it to get on board with falling asleep.

  2. Regular wake/calm schedule

    Sticking to a regular routine as much as possible also helps your brain and body to know when to relax and fall asleep. Going through a week or two of stressful nights when you’re starting a routine is not uncommon, but when you can push through that period, you might be surprised at how much better your sleep becomes!

  3. Stick to the routine

    Sometimes it’s better to take the extra time to follow a bedtime routine (even when you’re later getting to bed than normal) because your body will actually fall asleep faster with it than without. It can help avoid those nights you go to bed exhausted and lie awake for HOURS waiting for the much needed sleep to finally show up.

  4. Some, not all

    This is a great philosophy for any of the recovering (or active) perfectionists out there. If you can’t complete an entire bedtime routine, for whatever reason, it helps to attempt to do something from the list. Even that partial cue that it’s time to sleep can be helpful. The least amount of pressure you can put on yourself, the easier it is to fall asleep as well, so if you’re stressing about getting the whole routine done, this might actually make it harder to fall asleep.

  5. Listen to your body

    There are so many different studies telling people what will be best for helping them fall asleep. Unfortunately, many of these provide conflicting information, which can make it incredibly frustrating. Each of us is unique, and the things that impact our sleep will be different. It’s important to listen to what your body is telling you, and pay attention to how things like light, caffeine, certain foods, exercise, and even certain medications impact your body. I’ve read many studies that say not to eat 4 hours before bedtime, but when I do that I’m often up most of the night feeling hungry. When I listen to my body, and have a small snack, I tend to sleep better. You might notice that certain foods late at night make it easier or harder to sleep, or impact your sleep quality.

  6. Watch the frustration levels

    Secondary emotions sabotage sleep! You know that feeling when you’re really tired, and you just can’t sleep. You watch the clock, you think about how many hours you have left, and all the things you need to do tomorrow, and your irritation, frustration and even panic starts to creep in? Suddenly your emotions are at high intensity and your body is flooded with stress hormones that make it even harder to fall asleep. Stressing about sleep makes it harder to actually sleep. As much as you can, try to be gentle with yourself, and do what you can. If lying awake in the dark is making it worse, find something calming that will help – read a book, get up for a drink of water, etc. Give yourself a break from trying to sleep, and try again in fifteen minutes or a half hour. Sometimes doing this can prevent the frustration and make it easier to get the sleep we need. Reminding yourself that resting is still helpful to your body, even if you’re not sleeping, can take the edge off as well.

  7. The power of ENOUGH

    I rarely see a client who is getting an ideal level of sleep. We often twist this in our minds to mean that we’re not getting “enough” sleep. However, if you really think about it, most people have enough sleep to get up and move, to do what has to be done, and to make it through the day (however difficult or stressful that might be). It’s not ideal to be working off of a few hours (or less) of sleep, and it can have a serious impact on our health and well-being. However, when we can re-frame it to recognizing that we have enough sleep to manage, it can take the pressure off us, and actually make it easier to sleep. This is another way of reducing that secondary frustration of not sleeping.

  8. Reach out for help

    Lack of sleep can be a serious issue – if you’re genuinely struggling to sleep and you notice it impacting other areas of your life, reach out to a professional. There are many different tools that can be used to help improve the quality of your sleep. Doctors can make sure there isn’t an underlying condition causing sleep disturbances, therapists can help identify emotional stressors that may be causing or adding to your sleep issues, and alternative health practitioners can support you in reducing stress and holistic body health.

If you have anything else I might have missed, please add it in the comments below! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Good luck to all of you struggling to get the sleep you deserve. I wish you all relief and restful nights.


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