7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Go to Bed Earlier
Boost your health and wellbeing through better sleep.
Consistently getting a good night's sleep—between seven and nine hours per night—is important to maintaining optimal health. In fact, a healthy sleep schedule is known to boost your mood, stave off chronic illness, help maintain cognitive function, and more. Going to bed early is one way to help ensure that you're getting adequate rest, experts say. However, a 2014 survey revealed that while the majority of Americans go to sleep between 10 p.m. and midnight, one-third of adults go to sleep later.
If you have every intention of getting to bed early but still struggle to follow through, chances are you need a new way to incentivize rest. Read on to discover seven ways to motivate yourself to go to bed earlier, according to sleep specialists.
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Connect with your purpose.
Any time you want to make major changes to your health routine, it's important to have a clear understanding of why, says Laura Hansen, MS, NBC-HWC, a board-certified health and wellness coach with a focus on sleep and stress management.
"Understanding why it is important to get enough sleep can be a powerful motivator. Whether it's to have more energy for work or to feel more present with loved ones, connecting with your purpose can help you prioritize sleep," she says.
Hansen recommends reflecting on and even writing down the benefits of more sleep, from feeling more alert and focused to improving one's overall health.
"Remembering the positive outcomes of getting enough sleep can make it easier to prioritize," she tells Best Life.
Turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary.
If you want to actually enjoy going to bed earlier, upgrading your sleep space can make a world of difference, says Hansen.
"Creating a comfortable and inviting sleep environment can make it easier to wind down at night," she says.
In particular, you may want to invest in comfortable bedding, aromatherapy, a white noise machine, or blackout curtains—all of which can help you optimize your sleep. Be sure to keep your bedroom cool, dark, quiet, and clean for a better night's rest.
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Turn your sleep routine into a cherished ritual.
Relishing the ritual of your bedtime routine can also make sleep something you look forward to, says Jill Zwarensteyn, a certified sleep science coach and the editor at Sleep Advisor.
"There are many recommendations for nighttime routines, but it's important to look within and take your preferences into consideration when setting that ritual," she notes. "Do you like writing, painting, music, resting the mind, exercising? Align this ritual with your real interests to increase the motivation of completing it each night. Doing this can help you relax and feel good before going to bed."
Set some SMART goals.
Setting tangible goals around your sleep habits is another way to motivate you to go to bed earlier.
"Creating specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound [SMART] goals can help you stay accountable and motivated. For example, setting a goal to be in bed by a certain time each night can help establish a consistent sleep routine," says Hansen.
If you struggle with consistency, setting an alarm to begin your bedtime routine at a particular time can help you stick to your new sleep schedule.
However, Zwarensteyn says it's a good idea to start small.
"Habits are difficult to change, so changing your bedtime might be challenging. You don't want to set unrealistic goals and expectations as failing might be demotivating," she advises. "Instead of drastically changing your bedtime from one night to the next, push back the time starting with 10-15 minutes. Once you start to get the hang of it, set larger increments."
Create a rewards system.
To help reinforce those goals, it may also help to create a rewards system that incentivizes a job well done.
"For example, people can set goals for themselves, such as achieving a certain streak of nights with a consistent bedtime, and then reward themselves with something enjoyable or meaningful when they reach these milestones," says Carlie Gasia, a Spencer-Institute certified sleep science coach and publishing coordinator for Sleepopolis.
Rewards can range from treating yourself to a favorite treat or making time in your schedule for a favorite leisure activity like a massage, Gasia says.
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Make the most of your mornings.
Making exciting plans for the morning can also help motivate you to go to bed earlier. With something to look forward to, you'll want to feel as well rested as possible.
In particular, activities that get you outdoors in bright sunlight in the morning can help regulate your circadian rhythm. This will in turn make it easier to fall asleep at night, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Track your progress.
Focusing on your personalized sleep goals, the experts say it's important to note any positive changes you may experience as a result of going to bed earlier. This may mean tracking your mood, changes to your health, changes in productivity, or whatever else you've identified as a motivating factor.
"The best way to start is by making a log of how rested one feels upon waking," says Nilong Vyas, MD, the pediatrician and sleep specialist behind Sleepless in NOLA, and a medical review expert for the Sleep Foundation. "Once some data is collected, you may feel more motivated to make some changes."
Zwarensteyn agrees that tracking your data can make it easier to see how more sleep benefits you.
"Feeling proud of yourself and grateful for your progress can help keep you on track and motivated," she adds.
Best Life offers the most up-to-date information from top experts, new research, and health agencies, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the medication you're taking or any other health questions you have, always consult your healthcare provider directly.