What to do before bed to get a good night’s sleep

Published February 19, 2015

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There’s nothing like waking up after a really good night’s sleep, bursting with energy and ready to face the day ahead. For many people, these feelings are rare, surfacing only on weekends or when on holidays. With today’s busy lifestyles, it can be easy to put ‘getting a good night’s sleep‘ on the bottom of your to-do-list making it difficult to switch off at night. Here are some pre-bedtime tips to help you wind down and optimize your sleep helping you to wake up recharged, emotionally balanced and mentally sharp:

  • Avoid the call of technologyElectronic media is one the biggest enemies of sleep. Most of us are guilty of scanning social media while in bed or watching multiple TV shows late into the night, to ‘relax’ at the end of the day. However, the type of light that these devices emit stimulates the brain and can make sleep less restful.1 Try to switch off laptops, tablets, phones and the TV at least half an hour before your bedtime and avoid bringing them into the bedroom.
  • Do something to relax – Use the last hour or so before bed to relax your mind and quieten worrying thoughts. Take a warm bath or shower, meditate, practice deep breathing, do some easy stretches or read a book or magazine under soft light. By creating these relaxing pre-bedtime rituals, your body will recognize that it’s time to slow down, making falling asleep easier.
  • Steer clear of coffee, tea and other stimulants – For some people, drinking caffeinated beverages during the afternoon can affect sleep. It can take the body six hours to eliminate just one half of the caffeine consumed in a cup of coffee.2 Avoid caffeine after lunch and as an alternative before bed, try a herbal tea or warm milk drink.
  • 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.
  • Create a calm and soothing sleeping environment – Ensuring your room is comfortable, quiet and dark, and has good air flow as these are essential to help you relax and unwind before bed. Invest in cozy pillows and natural linen, ensure your curtains are dark enough to block out light or wear a sleep mask, and use your bed for sleep and intimacy only, not for checking work emails etc.
  • 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.

References

  1. Harvard Health, Blue light has a dark side, May 2012, URL access: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/harvard_health_letter/2012/may/blue-light-has-a-dark-side
  2. National Sleep Foundation, Caffeine and sleep problems, URL access: http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/caffeine-and- sleep

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