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How you should be spending your evening to get the best night’s sleep

16 Dec | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
How you should be spending your evening to get the best night’s sleep

Our latest research reveals how your bedtime routine could impact the quality of your sleep.

Have you ever wondered how your bedtime routine impacts the quality of your sleep? Whether you spend your evening reading your favourite book, scrolling through socials, or clicking next episode on your favourite TV show, everything you do before bed influences your sleep. 

So, what are the best activities to do before bed for a great night’s rest and which should you save till the morning? 

To find out, online casino Betway conducted an experiment, asking individuals to use sleep tracking apps to monitor how well they slept after doing the following activities:

    • Listening to music
    • Grabbing a late-night snack
    • Scrolling through social media
    • Watching a horror film
    • Watching a comedy film 
    • Playing a mobile game
    • Meditating 
    • Cleaning your bedroom
    • Watching a true crime show
    • Watching the news
    • Reading a book
    • Speaking with friends and family
    • Doing a face mask
    • Doing a home workout 

Which activities will give you the best night’s sleep

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Which bedtime activities help us get the best quality night’s sleep?

To measure sleep quality, we used the sleep tracking app Pillow, which gives users a score out of 100 based on sleep duration, sleep quality, and restfulness. The higher the score, the better the quality of sleep the participant received overall. In addition, we analysed how disruptive each person’s sleep was, with the less time spent awake during the night equalling lower disruption.

The top 10 best activities for a good night’s sleep

Rank

Activity

Sleep quality

Average time spent awake in the night (minutes)

Total Score

1

Meditation

88%

12

9.6

2

Doing a facemask

90%

14

9.4

3

Watching a comedy film

87%

14

8.7

4

Listening to music

87%

17

8.0

5

Cleaning your bedroom

80%

17

6.6

6

Reading a book

76%

17

6.0

7

Having a snack before bed

78%

20

5.3

8

Mobile gaming

71%

20

4.1

9

Scrolling social media

71%

24

2.9

10

Doing a home workout

73%

27

2.4

11

Watching the news

70%

25

2.4

12

Speaking with family or friends

68%

26

1.7

13

Watching true crime

68%

27

1.5

14

Watching a horror film

65%

26

1.3

  • Meditation

Meditating takes the top spot as the best activity for a good night’s sleep, with an average sleep quality score of 88%. On average, participants slept eight hours and four minutes and spent only 12 minutes awake during the night. This is the lowest amount spent awake of all activities analysed. Meditating is a particularly popular method to reduce stress, which may explain why participants were very restful during the night. It’s interesting that just 30 minutes of this practice before bed has such a positive effect on our sleep quality. 

  • Doing a face mask

Selfcare is known to have many benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety. Doing a face mask before bed is the second-best activity for good sleep, with an average sleep score of 90% – the highest of all activities. On average, those who applied a face mask before bed slept for seven hours and 15 minutes, and were only awake for 14 minutes during the night.

  • Watching a comedy film

Watching a funny film before bed ranks in third place as the best activity for good sleep, with an overall score of 8.74. Respondents who watched a comedy spent just 14 minutes awake per night (equal to doing a facemask) and their sleep quality was rated at 87%. The average amount of time spent sleeping after watching a comedy was eight hours and 11 minutes.

  • Listening to music

Winding the day down by listening to your favourite tunes comes in fourth place. While respondents were awake for 17 minutes during the night, this activity resulted in the longest sleep time, with eight hours 18 minutes on average. In terms of sleep quality, it matches watching a comedy with 87%.

  • Cleaning your bedroom

Rounding off the top five is, perhaps surprisingly, cleaning your bedroom. Although some (if not many) people may consider this a very boring task, it clearly has a great effect on your sleep. Participants who tidied their bedroom before bed reported a sleep quality of 80%, as well as just 17 minutes of restlessness.

Horror movies and true crime result in the worst sleep

As expected, the worst activity to do before bed for a quality night’s sleep is to watch a horror movie. Participants who undertook this activity scored an average sleep score of just 65%. Although our participants were able to sleep for an average of seven and a half hours afterwards, they were awake for around 26 minutes during the night.

Watching true crime shows rank second with an average sleep quality of 68% – which, interestingly, is the same quality as after speaking to family or friends (either on the phone or in person). The average time spent sleeping after watching true crime is six hours and 40 minutes, which is almost an hour less sleep than after watching a horror movie. 

However, when only considering the activities that disrupt our sleep the most, true crime and doing a home workout come out on top. Both of these activities resulted in participants being awake for 27 minutes on average during the night. So, if you enjoy doing your workout in the evenings, you may want to opt for some light yoga to help your body wind down.

How can evening activities impact our time spent in light, deep and REM sleep?

Now that we know which activities give us the longest and best quality night’s sleep, we have delved into the different stages of sleep to uncover how each activity can influence how much time you spend in light, deep, and REM sleep. 

Each stage of sleep plays a key role in living a healthy lifestyle.  

Before we get into the findings of the study, here are some brief explanations of what each type of sleep means:

Light sleep is shallow and easily interrupted, you’ll still be able to hear and may be aware of things going on around you. It might not feel like it, but your brain has gone to sleep, and if you’re woken up you may not even feel like you’ve slept yet. This is the stage that your body begins to relax, which allows you to transition into a deeper sleep. 

Deep sleep is when you really switch off. You’re less likely to be woken up during this stage; your breathing slows, your muscles relax, your blood pressure drops, and your heartbeat becomes more regular. While your brain is offline, your body gets to work repairing itself, secreting growth hormones to rebuild and repair your bones, muscles, and tissues whilst strengthening your immune system. Deep sleep also restores your energy, so if you wake up feeling tired and are exhausted throughout the day, it may be a sign you’re not getting enough deep sleep. 

REM sleep is more about the brain than the body. In this stage, your body is effectively paralysed while your brain becomes more active. REM sleep gets its name from how rapidly your eyes move under your eyelids during this stage, and it’s when most of your dreaming takes place. Babies spend around 16 hours per day asleep, eight of which can be in REM sleep, but as we get older this decreases to around two hours in adults. 

Throughout the night, you’ll pass through each of these stages several times, drifting from non-REM to REM sleep. This is known as the sleep cycle. A sleep cycle commonly lasts between 90-110 minutes, and we have around four to six cycles a night. The amount of time spent in each stage of the cycle will vary depending on age, health, diet, and room temperature.

Time spent in the different sleep stages

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 Our research found that our participants spent the longest amount of time in light sleep after scrolling through social media. On average, they spent 34% of their time asleep in the light sleep stage and just 13% in deep sleep – the lowest compared to all other activities tested.

When it comes to the activity that will help you get the most deep sleep, we found that meditating had our participants spending an average of 38% of their total time sleeping in this stage. This is the highest percentage for deep sleep of all activities analysed.

Interestingly, watching the news resulted in the highest percentage of REM sleep (55% of total time spent sleeping). Scrolling social media before bed follows in second place with 53% REM sleep, and reading a book ranks third (51%).

Now that you know how different activities influence sleep, will you be adjusting your nighttime routine?

Methodology: 

Eight adults were instructed to spend 30 to 60 minutes doing a selection of activities before bed, including:

  • Watch a true crime show for one hour
  • Watch the news for 30 mins
  • Read a book for one hour
  • Speak with family or friends for 30 mins
  • Do a face mask for 30 mins
  • Scroll through social media for 30 mins
  • Do a home workout for 30 mins
  • Watch a horror for one hour
  • Watch a comedy for one hour
  • Listen to music for one hour
  • Mobile gaming for 30 mins
  • Meditation for 30 mins
  • Clean your bedroom for 30 mins
  • Have midnight snack

The study participants did one of these activities per night and they were asked to track their sleep metrics using the sleep tracking app, Pillow. The results were then compiled to calculate averages for each activity.

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