How to improve your bedtime routine and get a better night’s sleep
Published April 13, 2021
There’s nothing like waking up after a really good night’s sleep, bursting with energy and ready to face the day ahead. Sadly, many of us report having sleep problems. The problem with this is if a bad night’s sleep turns into a bad week or month of sleep, it can result in a whole range of health problems. If you would like to know how to get to sleep when you are struggling and how to create a bedtime routine for a better night sleep, these 10 tips may help get your sleep routine back on track.
10 Tips for better sleep
1. Make sleep a priority
Instead of scrimping on sleep to tackle your daily tasks, put it on the top of your to‐do list. After all, sleep is up there with food and water as one of the cornerstones of good health. To ensure you get enough sleep, stick to a sleep schedule by going to bed at the same time each night (preferably before midnight) and waking up at the same time each morning, even on weekends. This will help you develop a natural sleep/wake cycle and may even eliminate the need for that loud and disruptive alarm.
2. Avoid the call of technology
Mobile phones, laptops, tablets and TVs can all interfere with sleep and should be avoided at least half an hour before your bedtime. The type of light these electrical devices emit is too stimulating and may affect your ability to switch off. Consider using a good old-fashioned alarm clock, rather than your phone, but keep it out of view so it doesn’t add to your worries if you can’t get to sleep.
3. Have a bedtime routine
Prep your body for sleep by having a bedtime ritual that you repeat every night that allows you to switch off.
How to Switch Off
Use relaxation techniques — As you’re lying in bed, try this relaxation technique. Curl your toes tightly for a count of five and then relax. Repeat through each muscle group working from your feet to your head. Muscle relaxation techniques, although simple, should be done in consultation with a physiotherapist or certified health professional.
Do something relaxing before bed — Have a warm bath with your favourite essential oils, read under a soft light, meditate, do some easy stretches or deep breathing or gentle yoga postures.
By creating a relaxing bedtime routine your body will recognize that it’s time to slow down, making falling asleep easier.
4. Journal or make a note of your worries, then forget about them
If you’re prone to worrying or having anxious thoughts in bed, write them down on a piece of paper along with some possible solutions that you can deal with the following day. Doing this will help free your mind of these types of thoughts, rather than being hyped up or anxious about tomorrow’s deadlines.
5. Create a sleep sanctuary
Ensure your room is cool, comfortable, quiet, dark, and has good airflow as these are essential to help you relax and unwind before bed.
Research shows that there’s an ideal temperature for sleep, which tends to be on the cooler side. When the temperature heats up, it can take longer to fall asleep. Wear light clothing, use natural/breathable bedding and open a window. In the warmer months, you can also use a fan or air conditioning to keep cool at night.
The amount of light in your bedroom can also have a big influence on your ability to fall asleep (and stay asleep). Light and darkness are powerful cues that tell our bodies when it’s time to wake and rest. So, it’s no surprise that light in the bedroom — or outside your bedroom — can interfere with a quality night’s sleep. Use low wattage bedside lamps to help you wind down in the hours before sleep and block sources of artificial light such as bright alarm clocks. Also, consider using an eye mask.
6. Make yourself comfortable
Avoid tight and uncomfortable clothing and accessories such as socks or hair bands, ensure your bedding is cosy and be sure to use the bathroom before getting into bed, as the need to go may interfere with your ability to fall asleep. Invest in cosy pillows and natural linen, and use your bed for sleep and intimacy only, not for checking work emails etc.
7. Consider bedtime stretches
Gentle yoga stretches before bed may help to release the stresses of the day, relax your body and calm your mind. Speak with your healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program.
8. Limit stimulants before bedtime
Caffeine is a known stimulant found in coffee, tea and colas and may make it more difficult for you to fall asleep if consumed close to your bedtime. As an alternative, try a relaxing herbal tea like chamomile to help you unwind. Vigorous exercise before bed can also negatively affect sleep. Try to avoid vigorous activity at least one hour before bedtime.
Dietary sources that help promote good sleep
Did you know that you may be able to eat your way to better night sleep? Some foods have calming and soothing effects that when consumed at night, may make it easier for you to relax, preparing your body for quality rest. Here are some of the top sleep‐inducing foods:
Milk — Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid (the building block of protein), which plays a role in relaxation and sleep. To help you unwind, try consuming a warm glass of milk before bed. For best results, pair it with a small amount of carbohydrate such as a whole grain cracker, as this makes tryptophan more available to the brain.
Turkey — Similar to milk, turkey is also a good source of tryptophan and may promote sleepiness. Combine with a carbohydrate snack to aid delivery to the brain.
Cherries — Researchers have found that tart cherry juice has modest beneficial effects in older adults. Tart cherries are especially high in melatonin, a brain chemical with sleep‐regulating properties.
Lettuce — Interestingly, lettuce has relaxing and sleep‐inducing effects. This is believed to be due to the white fluid you see when you break or cut lettuce, which is called lactucarium.
Almonds — Research shows that even a marginal lack of the mineral magnesium can affect the ability to settle at night time. Almonds are naturally rich in magnesium as are pumpkin seeds and green leafy vegetables.
Dark chocolate — Chocolate is a natural source of serotonin, the ‘feel‐good’ hormone. It also contains tryptophan which converts into serotonin in the body. The higher the cocoa content of chocolate, the higher the serotonin amount. Try a square or two of dark chocolate with around 85% cocoa before bed to help you relax. Resist the temptation to consume more as it’s also a source of caffeine, which may keep you awake.
9. If you can’t sleep, leave the bedroom
If you’re upset or finding it difficult to fall asleep after 15–20 minutes, leave the bedroom and do something relaxing such as reading until you feel ready to sleep.
10. Try a natural remedy
Most of us have at some time spent a night wide awake and willing for sleep to come. Help is at hand. Herbal remedies can be beneficial for those times you’re having difficulty attaining proper sleep.
Can herbs help you sleep better?
Nature’s Own provides a range of sleeping aid products that may help you relax at the end of the day and achieve the restful night of sleep you crave. With a number of formulas, there’s sure to be one that suits your needs. Nature’s Own Sleep range contains many of the below herbs which may help improve your sleep.
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) — Valerian is a herb well renowned for its sleep-inducing properties. It has a natural sedative action and can help to relieve sleeplessness. Valerian may also be helpful in alleviating restlessness and nervous tension. When used for sleeplessness, valerian should be taken 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime. Valerian normally has no effect on reaction time, alertness and concentration the morning after intake.
Hops (Humulus lupus) — Hops has calming effects on the body and may help assist in getting a good night’s sleep. It also helps to relieve restlessness, which may be contributing to sleeping difficulties. A 2008 Randomised Controlled Trial showed that use of a valerian/hops combination was associated with total sleep time improvement, sleep quality and deep sleep.
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) — A cup of chamomile tea is one of the most popular traditional sleeping remedies. Chamomile has a soothing effect on the nervous system and can help to relieve nervous unrest, sleeplessness in adults and children who are otherwise healthy.
Zizyphus (Zizyphus spinosa) — Zizyphus is a herb used in traditional Chinese medicine as a mild sedative to calm the nerves, relieve irritation, assist a healthy sleep, and relieve sleeplessness.
Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) — Passionflower is traditionally used in western herbal medicine for its mild sedative action and to enable a quiet, natural slumber. It may also provide symptomatic relief of anxiety, which may be interfering with proper sleep.
Lactium — While not technically a herb, lactium is a hydrolysed milk protein which may help alleviate stress in adults. Stress might be what is keeping you awake and affecting the quality of your sleep.
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