Sleep is essential for your health and wellbeing. It allows your body to repair itself and rejuvenate, boosts your energy for the following day, increases your concentration, reduces stress and improves your mood to name a few. For many of us, our body feels tired in the evening but when we go to bed we find we are unable to sleep as our mind is still racing from our thoughts, stresses and worries of the day. Of course, we know there are external influences such as working shifts, jet lag and seasonal changes when we turn our clocks forwards or backwards, but there are also things within our control that can aid sleep which we’ll be covering in this post…
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OUR FAVOURITE TIPS FOR A RESTFUL NIGHT’S SLEEP
Listen to your mind and body. We all have an internal 24-hour body clock called the circadian rhythm which is our sleep/wake cycle. The brain gives the body subconscious signals that it is time to get up or to start winding down for the day. As the brain and body both begin to slow down, they are preparing you for a more restful sleep. Therefore as a first step, it is really important to stay in tune with and pay attention to your body clock, responding appropriately.
Ensure that your bed, mattress and pillows are comfortable and support your body so that you feel relaxed. Both pillows and mattresses are designed to suit how you sleep – whether that’s on your front, side or back – so we recommend checking you have the right ones for you.
Exercise is great for reducing stress and anxiety and can help us to sleep. However, it’s important to avoid exercising close to bedtime as this increases our body’s adrenaline production which will keep you awake.
Consider what you are eating and drinking. We’re big believers in having a well-balanced diet and consuming some of your favourite food and drinks in moderation. That being said, there are some things which can make getting sleep more difficult. For example, eating big meals or spicy food late at night can play havoc with your digestive system, especially when you are lying down in bed. Sugary foods and refined carbohydrates can lead to dips in energy throughout the day while caffeine too close to bedtime stimulates the nervous system and stops the body from relaxing. Alcohol can also disrupt sleep and affects hormones as it alters our melatonin production which plays a key role in ensuring the body’s circadian rhythm is working properly. If you are feeling hungry before bedtime try to just eat a small, healthy snack.
Make sure your bedroom is tidy and ready for you to go to bed in. Making the bed isn’t the most fun thing to do but in doing so, it makes us feel so much better and is more inviting! The room should provide a calm and peaceful environment for you. If you can, be mindful of the decor and colour palette you have in your bedroom to keep stimulation to a minimum. Every evening, close the curtains or pull down the blinds so the room is darkened and ensure the temperature is comfortable for you to sleep in. If there is light coming through the curtains/blinds from street lights or car headlights, perhaps use an eye mask like the La’Aquarelle Bamboo Silk Eye Mask.
Establish an evening routine which is carried out at the same time each evening, and follows pretty much the same steps.
- Slowly execute your skincare routine. As a mini-meditation, close your eyes and take deep breaths whilst massaging your skin, following the feel of your fingertips as they move across your skin. We suggest using a face oil to give fingers enough slip to massage skin for longer too. Our face oil contains jasmine – a naturally positive feeling inducer, and our eye oil has soothing chamomile and grounding wild carrot seed.
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- Create a bedtime ritual such as taking a warm shower or bath, making yourself a hot drink, writing in your journal, listening to a playlist, reading a leisurely book or magazine – something which helps you to feel relaxed. Turn off your laptop/tablet and put down your phone at least one hour before going to bed as this will reduce stimulation and anxiety if you are an avid news/social media checker.
- Have a set bedtime and get up time and be consistent with this (including at weekends). Avoid napping during the day too as your body will eventually get to know the routine.
- When in bed, take some deep breaths and long exhales, tense the whole body and then relax it. Repeat this a few times. YouTube and other mindfulness apps have recordings specifically designed to prepare you for sleep, so you might like to use these to listen to calming music or a meditation as you do so.
- If you are not feeling tired or can’t sleep, get up rather than staying in bed. If we stay put we can start to listen to and believe our negative thoughts. We think back to things that have happened in the past and think “what if…”, picture scenarios or start to blow up something small into something much bigger than it is. Instead, get up and read a book for 10 minutes and then go back to bed. If you still cannot fall asleep, repeat this until you are feeling tired. The important thing is to distract your mind of negativity and feelings of anxiousness, and focus on something you enjoy doing that relaxes you too.
WHAT DOES YOUR EVENING ROUTINE INCLUDE?
We’d love for you to tell us in a comment below!