We have all embraced habits in our lives, but have you ever thought of creating a habit or “trigger” that actually helps you fall asleep? If you’ve ever tried to end a bad habit, you know how powerful habitual behavior becomes over time. The good news is you can use your human nature that loves rituals in your favor to assist your body in knowing it’s time to wind down and go to sleep by creating a sleep trigger that works.
In today’s world atmosphere, stress, anxiety, and depression are affecting many. According to Consumer Reports, 68% of all adults struggle with sleep at least once a week. You may be apart of this group. Today I want to give you information to help you get to sleep and use some habit stacking techniques and triggers that may help you get to sleep every night.
The definition of a trigger is “cause (an event or situation) to happen or exist.” B.J. Fogg uses a formula in his book, Tiny Habits which creates triggers and habit stacking to modify and change behavior.
The Formula is = After/Before [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].
Begin to think about your evening routine as bedtime approaches. You may want to journal for a week to see how you prepare for sleep. Write out your current habits and think about how you can stack a new habit with your current habit. As the habit becomes ingrained in your routine, you will create a sleep trigger. An Example with the Formula is, After [I spend time watching TV with my family in the evening], I will [Turn Off all Electronics and read a peaceful book 2 hours before I want to go to sleep].
Use the formula to stack your habit and create a sleep trigger that is specific to your life and routine. If you are at a loss of where to start or what to change, here is a list of 10 possibilities that may get you started on your new sleep routine.
Habits to trigger “dream” time:
- Get On a Schedule – Getting up and going to bed relatively at the same time every night is the main way you can improve your sleep to be more productive, happy, and healthy.
- Get Sunshine in The Morning – To trigger your internal body clock, try to get outside for about twenty to thirty minutes every morning before noon, even though a walk is better if you have a commute and don’t have tinted windows that counts.
- Go For an After Dinner Stroll – Like the morning light wakes you up, letting your body experience the natural sun going down and eventually setting is a great way to trigger your body to get ready for sleeping at night. Plus, an after-dinner stroll helps you maintain your weight and avoid clogged arteries.
- Consume Your Last Snack and Drink – At least two to three hours before you plan to go to sleep, consume your last snack and a glass of water to help you stay full and hydrated all night. For example, a handful of almonds and a nice glass of room temperature water are very helpful to inducing sleep.
- Turn Down the Thermostat – Sleeping with your thermostat lower than you think can help you get to sleep and sleep all night. For example, try turning your thermostat down to 68 at night and keeping it at 72 during the day.
- Dim The Lights – An hour or two before bed, consider dimming your lights inside your home to simulate the sun setting. You can put most lights on a dimmer switch relatively easily to assist you with this or get lamps that allow you to adjust them.
- Turn Off Your Technology and Electronics – The blue light that comes from your devices interferes with your body clock and should be avoided two to three hours before bedtime. Instead, try reading an old-fashioned book instead of watching stimulating movies and looking at screens. (Blue light Glasses)
- Put Your Feet Up – An hour or so before bed, try putting your feet up. If you’re standing sitting at a desk a lot, consider that you may have fluid build-up. Fluid pools in your legs and will cause you to have to urinate during the night. If you put your legs up before bed to trigger this process, you’ll avoid that problem.
- Stretch Gently and Meditate – Try meditation and gentle stretching before bed to prepare your body for relaxing and resting by clearing your mind and aligning your body.
- Finally, use the toilet, take a hot bath, brush your teeth, and get in your most comfortable clothing. Don’t skip this because you need to be clean and comfortable when you go to bed. Don’t rush the process. Give yourself time to move slowly and deliberately. Take your time developing this nighttime ritual that starts two to three hours before you’re ready to lay down.
Once you have developed your personalized Formula with your new habit, try just one change at a time. Give the new habit a week or two to allow your body to adjust to your new pattern of nigh time activity. In time you will find as you adopt a few of these habits, you will have a sleep trigger that will help you slip into “dream time” in no time.
About the Author
I am Kathy Denise Hicks, Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist and author and I would love to connect with you to help you achieve your fitness and health goals. If you are looking to get moving, feel more energy, get out of pain, and lose a few pounds, I have a program that can help. My 14 Day Workout Trial, will give you an idea of the classes I offer.