Bedtime rituals and tips for a better night’s sleep
With the levels of anxiety and stress in our lives at the moment it’s no surprise many of us are struggling to get a good night’s sleep.
For those who are struggling to fall asleep, or perhaps waking in the night with worries on your mind, we’ve shared some bedtime rituals to help you drift off to sleep, as well as some handy tips and hints on how you can achieve a better night’s sleep.
We hope this blog helps you feel well rested and restored, and ready to take on your world.
A bedtime ritual can help prepare you mentally and physically to drift off to sleep. It’s important to establish a strong, healthy bedtime routine and stick to it – treat yourself like a toddler! Remember, the below is only a suggestion, so do feel free to adapt it to what you feel might work for you, and ensure you allow yourself time to see any changes take effect.
- Caffeine can last for 5 – 6 hours (and sometimes longer) in the body before wearing off. Try and have your last cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon, so you can begin the process of slowly winding down.
- Napping after 5pm or for more than 90 minutes at a time can be counter intuitive for falling asleep at night, so be mindful of your daytime snoozing habits.
- Build some wind down time into your evening. Whether it’s a puzzle, a jigsaw or mindful colouring – this is your time to help your brain switch off from your day and begin to relax.
- Avoid drinking alcohol up to two-hours before getting into bed.
- 90-minutes before bed, run a bath and enjoy a nice warm soak with a few drops of calming lavender essential oils. The warm bath water can help change your body’s core temperature, so that you go to bed with a lower temperature – this drop in temperature helps signal to the body that it’s time to zzzzzz….
- Visual clutter inhibits our ability to focus, leaving us feeling frazzled. Putting things back in their rightful place before bed can have a calming effect on the mind. Even if you haven’t made your bed yet today, now’s the time to do it.
- Switch off and stop using electronics at least 30-minutes before bedtime: although it might be tempting to pick up your phone or tablet to help you drift off to sleep, this can actually have the opposite effect. Using electronic devices before bed delays your body’s internal body clock, supressing the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, making it hard to fall into a deep slumber. This is largely due to the artificial blue light that’s emitted by these types of devices. Why not try swapping your tablet for a book and see if this makes a difference for you?
- Reach for your notepad and pen and scribble down any thoughts or worries on your mind. You can also jot down any reminders for the day ahead, to move everything from your mind to the piece of paper. This is also a good time to note down the little things you are grateful for from your day – anything that made you happy, or made you feel good.
- To help cut out as much noise and light as possible, try sleeping with an eye mask on and wear ear plugs.
- Don’t lie in bed if you are not asleep. Get up and move to another room to start your wind down process again.
- If you wake up in the night, don’t check the clock – knowing the time can stop you from falling back to sleep.
This bedtime ritual should set you off on the right foot, but there are other areas of our lifestyle we can tweak to help us drift off to sleep…
- Increase your intake of pre-biotic fibre to maintain a healthy digestive system. Foods such as asparagus, leeks, garlic, bananas, apples and oats are a good place to start.
- Leafy greens contain high levels of calcium, which can be important for producing sleep hormones.
- If you are prone to waking up hungry, eat a low GI snack before bed (high GI food can raise the blood sugar faster, when it’s preferable to keep your blood sugar stable) such as wholewheat pasta, porridge, multigrain bread peas, beans or lentils.
- Keep yourself hydrated – dehydration will wake you up more than a full bladder will.
- Exercising regularly can help improve sleep quality and increase sleep duration. If you can, exercise outdoors to let your body absorb natural sunlight during the daytime hours.
- Try gentle stretching/relaxing yoga poses.
- Practice mindfulness, meditation or self-hypnosis, or listen to guided relaxation.
- Practice breathing exercises which help to relax the mind and body
- Check with your GP or pharmacist if any medication you are on is impacting your sleep.
Create your own sleep sanctuary
- Your bedroom should be a relaxing and calming environment. You may find it helpful to make some adjustments to your bedroom, to help aid a better night’s sleep.
- Reorganise or redecorate your bedroom to create a haven of calm – it may help to reduce stress levels.
- Create a strong association with your bed and sleep – avoid laying on your bed in the daytime if you can, and make sure your work laptop stays in another room.
- Try to keep the bedroom temperature between 18C and 24C.
- Ensure your mattress, pillows and bedclothes are offering you maximum comfort.
Routine is your friend
You might not feel as though you have any reason to set an alarm during this lockdown but waking up and getting up at the same time every day (if you’re not working variable shifts) can help you anchor your day and night routine. There’s no harm in treating yourself to an extra bit of time in bed but keeping a consistent get-up time can help other parts of your day fall into a regular routine and help you sleep better the next night.
The same goes for breakfast, and your daily exercise – try to ensure these happen at similar times every day. This also helps you plan in time for that box set you’ve always wanted to watch, tidying that cupboard you’ve been meaning do to for a while, or trying out a new recipe!
Sleeping with changeable shift patterns
If you’re working sift patterns during lockdown, here are a few suggestions to help you’re your sleep on track.
- Keep your bedroom as dark as possible – blackout blinds or blackout curtain linings can help keep the daylight out.
- Achieve your 6-9 hours of sleep by sleeping in two parts
- Try to eat regularly throughout your waking day
- Be mindful of your caffeine intake – remember, it can take 5-6 hours, or longer, for caffeine to leave your system.
- On the commute home from a night shift, wearing sunglasses can help offset the morning light stimulating the waking part of brain