If you struggle to have 6-8 hours of peaceful, uninterrupted sleep each night, then it's time to take a close look at your pre-bedtime routine.
Sleep is one of the greatest gifts you should look forward to as it's essential for recharging your mind, body and for keeping you healthy and resistant to disease.
A small selection of pre-bedtime rituals can help you achieve the sleep you deserve. These rituals can help you to wake up rested, refreshed, alert and to avoid fatigue, irritability and many long term health problems.
The Simple Science of Sleep
The human body operates on a 24 hour sleep-wake cycle known as the circadian rhythm. When darkness falls, the body releases a natural hormone known as melatonin which induces a form of drowsiness.
Conversely, as daylight appears, the body releases a wake-up hormone known as cortisol which stimulates energy and alertness. The 24 hour cycle regulates your sleep patterns, controlling when you feel tired and ready for bed or refreshed and alert.
Benefits Of Quality Sleep
To flow with this natural circadian cycle, optimally you should aim for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to give your body and mind a chance to reset and restore.
The benefits include:
- Reduce stress hormones
- Improve memory and brain function
- Lower blood pressure and heart health risks
- Support strong immunity
- Maintain healthy weight
- Boost your mood and outlook on life
7 Tips For A Better Nights Sleep
1. Eat Dinner 2 Hours Before Bed
Eating a heavy meal close to bed time can be disruptive to a peaceful night's sleep because your body works hard to digest food while you sleep.
Therefore, it's best to eat lighter after the sun goes down and to avoid heavily processed foods, refined sugars and carbs at night time that won't have the chance to burn off before bed.
Soups, salads, greens and whole food based meals are all great options for your last meal of the day as they're less likely to upset your stomach and sleep cycle.
The ancient wisdom of "Supper" meant "soups", "sops" and "sups" (liquids), which should be the only foods consumed after the sun goes down. In other words, if you're going to eat a substantial evening meal, whenever you can, eat it as early as possible in the evening.
2. Do A Light Stretch or Stroll
Any type of rigorous exercise before bed, will stimulate cortisol and metabolism - so it's best to do your proper exercise routine earlier in the day.
However, if you’ve been sitting all afternoon and evening, your body could do with some light tension release, which can help you to sleep more soundly.
Try a light stretching routine before bed to loosen up your body from stiff sitting positions. Avoid anything too vigorous or taxing; just aim for a calm flow that makes you feel more relaxed and ready to stretch out in bed.
10-15 minutes is more than enough time to level out your body and relax. Try adding scented candles, calming music and/or essential oils as part of this pre-bedtime ritual to support peace and relaxation.
Alternatively, after dinner, go for a light 15 minute stroll around the block to gently move your body and get some fresh air.
A light walk will also encourage your body to produce more gastric enzymes, allowing your stomach to works more efficiently to assimilate the nutrients whilst you sleep. Better digestion also means you'll be less prone to constipation, bloating, heartburn, and acid reflux symptoms.
3. Take a Relaxing Bath
A night time bath, even 2-3 nights a week, can be a fantastic wind down night time routine that will support more restful sleep.
Soaking in a hot bath for 30-45 minutes is plenty of time to settle in and destress and unwind. Use light music, candles, essential oils (the doTERRA Lavender Peace Restful Blend is especially calming), Epsom salts, a herbal tea, and more to make it a time that you really cherish.
If you have sore muscles or any aches and pains, a hot bath will also help soothe them before bed so that you can sleep easier. Use the Healing Chrysm Natural Pain Relief Balm for even more soothing comfort after your both. A detox bath is simple to put together but particularly effective at relieving stress, pain, and inflammation while also pulling toxins from the body.
If you have trouble sleeping, a bath before bed can be exactly what you need to fall asleep more easily. Even if you don’t, it helps create a positive night time routine that you look forward to and truly enjoy.
4. Reduce Screen Usage
In today's digital age, it's important to be very conscious of close-up exposure to electronic screens before bed time.
The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is especially disruptive as it can restrict your body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin is needed for your body to fall asleep, which means you may be inadvertently keeping yourself up by using screens.
At least an hour before bed, put away all electronic screens, or only use small devices and use 'night-time' functions which reduce their brightness.
When going to bed, it's best to place your digital devices in the next room on flight mode to reduce temptation or disruption during the night.
Instead of looking at bright screens, choose an audio book or podcast, read a book or listen to light music to help wind yourself down before bed.
5. Prepare Your Bedroom For Rest
Your bedroom should have one purpose only - it should be your night time sanctuary designed to help you rest.
Bedrooms that double as home offices, gyms or TV rooms are not ideal for supporting healthy sleep patterns, so this should be avoided if possible.
The following tips can help transform your bedroom into your night time sanctuary:
- Declutter your bedroom of any items that shouldn't be there
- Ensure your linen is clean and fresh (washed with chemical-free detergent or laundry powder like our Earth Made variety)
- Keep 1-2 of your favourite books next to the bed
- Lightly crack the windows or turn on a ceiling fan to a low setting to stimulate clean airflow whilst you sleep
- Diffuse Lavender Essential Oil next to your bed or place a few drops onto your pillow and sheets
- Set softer lighting (turn it off completely when you're ready to go to sleep)
When the space is completely yours and a private oasis, your night time routine will become something you look forward to and crave.
6. Avoid Caffeine At Night
Even though coffee is a natural plant food/beverage, caffeine is a stimulant, which is precisely why coffee is considered a morning drink to kick start the day, not wind down at night.
Drinking coffee in the hours before bed can also temporarily make you feel more alert by blocking melatonin production and increasing adrenaline production, which is not what you want before you go to sleep.
It should go without saying that processed energy drinks that contain artificial chemical caffeine should be avoided at all costs, as they contribute to many more health risks over above disruption of sleep.
Instead of coffee try herbal tea, sparkling mineral water with a squeeze of lemon/lime, or fermented drinks like kombucha during or after your evening meal. A glass of preservative-free wine or beer with dinner is a far better way to go than drinking coffee after your evening meal.
7. Set Your Morning Up For Success
Some basic preparation for the following morning, can be a great relief before you go to bed that can help you get a restful night's sleep.
In today's busy world, the biggest challenge is managing stress and time constraints, so preparation and routine is key which can help you relax when you retire for the night.
Put the dishwasher on and tidy the kitchen before you go to bed, pack a light lunch for the next day, set out your clothes, pack your gym bag etc. All of these basic things can help your morning feel much less stressful and help you start your day on a more positive note.
Doing it at night when you’re less distracted by your day’s to-do list means you can get it done faster and you’ll feel much more calm knowing your morning will be that much easier. If you work it into your night time routine, it’ll feel less like a chore and more like a self care step.
One of the best things you can do for your health and wellness is to get enough sleep every night. It affects everything from your immunity, to inflammation, your moods, stress, recovery and so much more.
Getting eight hours of sleep all of the time isn’t easy, but it's worth aspiring to for your best physical and emotional long term health.
Try to establish a timely routine where you go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. It doesn't mean you shouldn't sleep in on a Sunday or stay up and watch movies one night a week, it's just about setting yourself up with a robust routine for the long term that you can rely on.
Tolman Self Care.