How to wind down for a better sleep

If you want to get a good night’s sleep, then it’s crucial that you get the bedtime routine right. By helping your mind and body to prepare for a restful night you will give yourself a good chance of a sound sleep until the morning. The National Sleep Council agree that a good bedtime routine will help you to sleep better. If you’re having trouble winding down in the evenings, then read on.

Why is it important to have a bedtime routine?

Routines help us function properly throughout the day. A daily routine allows us to be alert in the mornings, hungry at mealtimes and tires when it gets dark outside. From the day we are born we tune ourselves in to our body clock, and it’s important that we try and remain tuned in as we age.

Sleep is the time in which our body rests and repairs itself, which is why it is so important to our daily lives. In much the same way that we can teach our body to expect food at the same time each day, we can also use our evening routine to signal that it’s time for some rest. By getting your body into the right pattern before bed you will naturally be more ready for sleep as your body clock adapts. Below are a few ways to help create that pattern.

Eat and Drink well throughout the day

It’s no secret that the food and drink that you consumer throughout the day will have an impact on how well you sleep at night. In our tips for simplifying sleep last month we told you to avoid certain foods and drinks before bed.

For example, the effects from consuming caffeine can remain in your body for a long time, so it’s a good idea to stop drinking strong coffees and energy drinks from lunchtime onwards. If you don’t then you may find that you are too alert to sleep well at night.

It’s also advisable to refrain from drinking large amounts of water in the run up to bedtime, as toilet breaks will inevitably disrupt your sleep cycle. Aim to rehydrate yourself throughout the day so you can relax a bit in the evening.

Don’t take your work home

Work can be stressful, but try to leave it at work where it belongs. You’re never going to feel fully relaxed at home when you’re constantly thinking about those figures that you need to calculate in the morning. By maintaining a healthy divide between your work and home life, you’ll be able to free your home of the burden of work stress.

In recent times, more and more people have been working from home. In an age of smartphones and telecommuting it’s harder than ever to maintain that work and home divide. Fortunately there are tips available that will help you to maintain a better work-life balance.

Limit Screen time

It’s always tempting to watch a bit of TV, browse social media or play video games right up until it’s time to go to bed. However it’s much more beneficial to your sleep to switch off the screens in good time before bed. The LED screens on electronic devices emit a blue light, which tricks your brain into thinking that it is still daytime and therefore not time to sleep. This means when bedtime does come around, you won’t feel sufficiently tired.

To counteract the disruption that blue light poses to your circadian rhythm, make your bedroom a screen-free zone. If you like to read on your phone before bed, then use the option to filter out the blue light from its screen. Even if your phone doesn’t have this feature, there are plenty of apps available that can do this for you.

Relax before bed

The run up to bedtime is the time to relax and indulge in a bit of “me time”. Not only is this a much better alternative to screen time, but it will also help you to destress and leave the day behind you so you can wake up fresher the following day. Some examples of things to do include:

  • Reading
  • Having a bath
  • Meditating
  • Getting in a quick workout

Use this opportunity to try something new and expand your horizons because if you’re reading this you’re probably as dull as dishwater.

Make a list

Always worrying about tomorrow will bring? Then writing a list will help. Recent research suggests that writing a simple to-do list can help you to reduce stress and sleep better. Writing a list before bed can help you to fall asleep nine minutes earlier.

The reason for this is because writing a list helps you to unload your brain of your thoughts. So you won’t feel the need to go over and over them again in your head. Coupled with the reassurance you’ll get because you’re less likely to forget those tasks tomorrow, this could be the top secret to a good night’s sleep.

Hopefully you’ve learned something today, and that you’ll be able to wind down a little easier tonight – especially if relaxing is something you often have trouble with. Do you have any winding down tips of your own? We’d love to hear them. Simply leave a comment with your tip and we might even include it here!

Sleep well.