How to Commit to a Regular Bedtime—and Reap the Health Benefits

A new study shows that a consistent bedtime could lengthen your life. Here’s how to stick to a regular sleep schedule.

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Woman sleeping peacefully

It’s common knowledge that a regular bedtime is good for children, but a new study indicates that it’s good for adults too.

Research from Duke University recently published in Scientific Reports found that adults who stuck to a regular sleep schedule (going to bed and waking up at the same time each day), were healthier and lived longer than those with inconsistent sleep schedules. The study found that inconsistent sleep correlated with higher weight, blood sugar and blood pressure, as well as risk of heart attack, stroke or suffering from depression.  

The problem? Most people don’t follow a set sleep schedule. A study at Utrecht University found that 84 percent of people felt they slept too little, and a majority of participants experienced “bedtime procrastination.” Even when people are aware that a regular bedtime is good for them, they struggle to stick to it.

Here are six tips to help you stick to a regular bedtime:

1. Track your sleep

Using an app or notebook to keep track of your bedtime and quality of sleep will help you determine the optimal amount of sleep you need per night—and what time you need to go to bed.

2. Determine what’s keeping you awake

Once you know how much sleep you need, it’s time to identify what’s preventing you from getting enough rest. Do you suffer from insomnia? Find your thoughts racing as soon as your head hits the pillow? Struggle with watching just one more episode of television before hitting the hay? Determine what distractions are keeping you from your desired bedtime and then try to come up with a healthy substitute.

3. Select a bedtime

Alarms aren’t just for waking up. The first step to committing to a regular bedtime routine is committing to the bedtime that’s right for your life. Decide what time you want to go to bed and set an alarm for thirty minute to an hour before that time.

4. Establish a nighttime routine

You probably already know that watching television or using your phone late at night will make sleep more difficult. The easiest way to distract yourself from electronics? Develop a bedtime ritual. When the alarm goes off, stop what you’re doing and begin your nighttime routine. Whether it’s taking a bath, reading, coloring or praying, establishing a routine will make falling asleep easier.

5. Try not to look at the clock

Constantly checking the clock to see how much time has passed is stressful and can make falling asleep more difficult. Arrange clocks so that you can’t see them when sleeping and make sure your phone and any other electronic that tells the time is off or face down.

6. Pray

Prayer isn’t just good for your spiritual health—it can also improve the quality of your sleep. That’s because prayer triggers a physical change in your body, which scientists have termed the “relaxation response.” This response lowers your heart rate and slows breathing, creating the perfect conditions for peaceful sleep.

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