Bedtime Behaviors That Work: 7 Habits That Will Prepare Your Body for Sleep

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A consistent wind-down routine every day can help you fall asleep more quickly and reliably. Try any or all of the following relaxing behaviors for a restful night.

1. Take a hot bath

Your temperature naturally dips at night, starting two hours before sleep and bottoming out at 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., according to a 1997 study conducted by New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. When you soak in a hot tub, your temperature rises—and the rapid cool-down period immediately afterward relaxes you.

Two hours before bed, soak in the tub for 20 or 30 minutes, recommends Joyce Walsleben, PhD, associate professor at New York University School of Medicine. “If you raise your temperature a degree or two with a bath, the steeper drop at bedtime is more likely to put you in a deep sleep,” she says. A shower is less effective but can work, as well.

2. Install a dimmer switch

Late in the evening, your body releases the chemical melatonin, which makes you sleepy—but only if it receives the right cues from your environment. “Melatonin is your hormone of darkness—it won’t flow with the lights on,” says Walsleben. “You want to transition to dark as early as 9 or 10 o’clock.” Sitting in a dimly lit room before getting ready for bed can put you in the right mindset for sleep.

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