Experts argue a good night’s sleep is all about the right evening routine; having a familiar ritual we run through each night can help signal our bodies and brains that it’s time for bed.
The right routine is all about helping you relax and eliminating anything that might interfere with a good night’s sleep. Think of the way adults carefully create the right sleeping conditions for babies and young children – the same rules apply at any stage in life.
To help you wake up feeling refreshed every morning, we’re sharing the secrets of how to change your evening habits for a more restful sleep.
Giving your body plenty of time to digest before bed can help with restlessness as you tuck into bed. Try shifting your meal time so you’re finished eating at least two to three hours from when you usually go to bed and cut down on any evening snacking. The same goes for drink – try not to have any alcohol three hours before bed.
Our smartphones and tablets can be distracting bedmates, and there’s evidence to suggest the blue light that emits from their screens is disrupting our ability to get a good night’s rest. Try removing temptation from your bedroom by leaving your phone or tablet to charge in another room. You can cut down on the amount of time staring into your screen after the lights go out and also ensure you start the next morning on a positive note, rather than by checking your emails.
Stick to a pattern
Repetition is key – whatever your bedtime pattern, establish a routine and stick to it. Try initiating a routine that starts thirty minutes to an hour before you want to get to sleep. Simple things like changing into pyjamas, washing your face and brushing your teeth are a great start. Doing it at the same time every night is a helpful reminder to your brain that it’s time to wind down for bed.
Reorganise your room
Your bedroom should be your sanctuary. Do you feel relaxed when you walk in? If the answer is no, try to identify the reasons why. A good start is to banish any activities not related to relaxation or sleep in your room – this means no TV, no computer, no doing work in the bedroom. Instead of a bright overhead light, try installing a dimmer switch or using bedside lamps that emit a softer glow. Keep your bedroom cool, dark and comfortable – if you’re too hot or too cold you’ll struggle to settle down and get to sleep.
Try a shower or bath
Introducing a warm bath or shower into your night time routine is a great way to relax and pamper yourself before bed. Keep the temperature warm rather than hot – it will help your body reach a temperature that’s ideal for restful sleep.
Reading is a simple way to slow down after a busy day – this is particularly useful if you struggle to drift off to sleep straight away. Instead, run through your night time routine and settle into bed comfortably. Read using a small book light or bedside lamp for several minutes until you feel tired. You could set a goal of a chapter a night, or simply set aside twenty minutes before lights out.
Listen to gentle music
Relaxation CDs and gentle music give the mind something to focus on instead of running through the day. Gentle hypnotic music helps calm the mind and lets you drift off to sleep.
Write a to do list
Stress and anxiety are two of the most common deterrents to a good night’s sleep. If you find your mind starts whirring as soon as the lights go out, try this instead: leave a notebook and pen beside the bed. If you find yourself worrying or distracted by your to do list, spend a moment writing everything down into your notebook. Your list will be there waiting for you the next day when you need it – so you can focus on getting to sleep.
Do you have a night time routine? How do you ensure a good night’s sleep?