Before Sleep, Many Turn on a Fan and Read a Book

Experts say consistent routine facilitates getting enough rest
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2024 5:17 PM CST
Survey Asks Americans About Sleep Aids, Bedtime Rituals
The survey found 29% of respondents say they use blackout curtains.   (Getty/?????? ?????????)

A steady bedtime routine, with an emphasis on minimizing distractions, is key to getting a good night's sleep, experts say. An online survey from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found how widely Americans' pre-sleep routines vary—though people could well be doing several things before turning out the light. The most common step to create ideal conditions, often by countering noise or light, is taken by almost half of respondents: turning on a fan. Next, 29% draw blackout curtains, and a quarter set an alarm clock with wake-up lights. About equal shares use weighted blankets, sleep masks, noise machines or apps, or earplugs.

As for activities, tops is taking a shower or bath before turning in, at 39%. Next, 30% turn off electronics, and 29% open a book. One-fourth of respondents at least say they have sex. About equal shares drink tea or another nonalcoholic beverage, meditate or do breathing exercises, stretch, smoke a cigarette or marijuana, or vape. Just 15% say they have an alcoholic drink. There's a guideline for knowing whether your routine works. "An effective metric for a successful nightly routine is that it leads to seven or more hours of sleep a night," said Dr. James Rowley, the organization's president.

The nonprofit Sleep Foundation defines the bedtime routine as a series of activities you do in the half-hour to an hour before trying to sleep, which serve to inform your brain that's it's bedtime. Another key to a good night's sleep is going to bed at the same time every night, which doesn't seem like it takes much effort. But Rowley said "only about one-third of people are doing it." He said the beginning of a new year "provides the perfect time to reset habits to make sure that healthy sleep is a priority." (More sleep stories.)

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