How you feel before you go to sleep can impact the quality of rest you get. Ideally, you want to feel relaxed and content as you drift off.
Switch off, unplug
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. There’s a time and place for social media and smartphones and it’s not in the bedroom. Scrolling through your work emails doesn’t set you up for a night of restful sleep, nor does checking if you’ve got texts in the middle of the night. If you can, switch your phone off completely. At the very least, commit to putting it on silent and out of sight.
Turn off the lights
It’s not just the light from smartphone screens that can confuse your brain; the same goes for all electrical light. A study from the Journal of Endocrinology & Metabolism published in 2011 showed that melatonin levels can be suppressed if you’re exposed to bright lights between dusk and bedtime. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate our sleep cycle, so it’s pretty important stuff.
No, we’re not suggesting that you put something up for sale before you pop to bed, we’re talking old-school list making. Benjamin Franklin famously considered what good he’d done at the end of each day – could you do the same and write down a few notes? Or, perhaps you’d like to clear your mind by noting outstanding tasks so that you don’t dwell on them overnight? You could even make a list of goals for the next day that will help you feel happy and motivated when you wake.
Enjoy a hot drink
Many people like to include a hot bedtime drink into their routine but are you reaching for the right one? If you’re drinking coffee or tea make sure it’s decaffeinated to avoid having the opposite effect.
With this in mind, you may want to enjoy a cup of herbal tea like chamomile, which is said to have a natural sedative effect.
Some essential oils such as lavender have been shown to decrease heart rate and blood pressure, which may make it easier for you to reach a relaxed state from which you can drift off to sleep. If you’d like to use aromatherapy as part of your evening routine, you could ask someone to give you a relaxing massage, burn oils before bedtime or use a room mist or pillow spray.
Doing a few sensible stretches before you go to bed could stop you waking later in discomfort. Target areas where you hold tension like your head and neck to help you feel more relaxed. You could even combine yoga moves with a little meditation to make sure both your muscles and mind are ready for sleep.
Do you already carry out any of the rituals above? What activities are part of your wind down routine?
Carrying out activities that help you wind down towards bedtime can help signal to your brain that you’re preparing for rest. So, is it time you swapped falling asleep on the sofa for a sleep-friendly routine instead?