Sleeping is either something you’ve mastered or something you need to master asap! Getting good quality sleep and enough sleep is one of the most important things, especially at the moment where our sleep is disrupted, our routines out of whack and our dreams becoming vivid and intense.
I’ve struggled with having a good sleep routine my whole life. I’m still trying to figure it out even now, but recently I’ve realised that sleep and my sleep hygiene needs to take top priority. It’s one of those things that just gets forgotten about, pushed back or even abused in order to finish work tasks, chores or for another hour scrolling through Instagram. No more!
Here are five things you can do to ensure you’re following a good sleep routine and giving your body the rest it needs.
Create a routine and stick to it
This is where I’m focusing most of my time because it’s where I have the biggest issue! Waking up at the same time everyday and going to bed at the same time every night is going to change your life if your sleep pattern is currently all over the place. If you go to bed at 12 am one night, 2am the next night and suddenly decide to have an early night at 10pm the following night your body probably won’t understand what’s going on.
I always do this and wonder why I’m laying awake for hours and stressing myself out constantly checking the time and racing through my thoughts. If you want to go to bed earlier you need to get there gradually. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until you’re going to bed at the time you want. You’ll also need to make some changes at the other end of the day too, as if you’re still laying in until midday, you probably won’t be ready for bed at 9pm, but if you’re getting up a bit earlier you’ll be tired enough to sleep when you go to bed.
It’s important to remember that being in bed isn’t quality rest and that a lay in when you’re scrolling on your phone or half asleep and half listening to the world around you isn’t doing you any favours. Getting up, getting on with your day and tiring your body out ready for deep, meaningful rest is going to be far more beneficial. Choose the time you want to go to bed and the time you want to wake up and use the 15 minute increment changes to get you there. Once you’re there try and stick to this as much as you can and you’ll find yourself suddenly becoming very tired just before bedtime and waking up with bundles of energy more naturally in the morning.
Have dim lights in the evening
Having big bright lights well into the evening is only going to keep your brain active and keep you awake! Bright lights are stimulating and also increase productivity, or at least it does for me. If I have bright lights or lights on in every room I feel more motivated to get up and start doing things. I might notice things need cleaning or feel inspired to start re-organising or moving things around. When I lived in my last flat on my own with no-one to tell me to stop I would be hauling my furniture around at 2am to have a complete move around.
Now I try to use small lamps, candles and a salt lamp to keep the environment dim and cosy. By having these dimmer lights I can feel my body winding down as it gets darker and end up feeling so much more relaxed and ready for sleep. I find using a pink Himalayan salt lamp to be the best for making me feel sleepy and tired. If you don’t have anything like this, maybe just try to put off turning the lights on in the evening and letting your body wind down with the darkness, or light a few candles instead of using lights at all. Don’t forget to turn on blue light filters on your computer and phone!!! This is one of the worst things you can do for keeping yourself awake so make this one of your top priorities! You won’t even notice a difference when using your devices, but you’ll notice in a different in sleep quality for sure.
Create an environment that helps you feel calm, relaxed and sleepy
Along with dimming the lights and switching on light filters on my phone, I like to create a super calm and cosy environment in my bedroom. I use a diffuser with essential oils such lavender, bergamot, chamomile and my all time favourite essential oil, frankincense. These oils help to induce sleep and help you to relax, plus they smell amazing and will make you feel like your in a spa rather than your bedroom. I also use a pillow spray which I feel really helps with my sleep, even if it’s more a placebo effect, it works nonetheless!
Find an activity for before bed
It’s important to find activities before bed that are going to help you relax and wind down rather than start stimulating you and triggering mental busyness. Having a little activity to trigger your brain into knowing your going to bed is great and I start by making a mug of sleep tea. Sleep teas are a great way to induce sleep and I love the yogi sleep teas for this. It’s also a nice activity to do as you can sit in bed and sip your tea while you clear your thoughts and forget about the day.
Watching tv, chatting with friends on the phone, scrolling through Twitter and replying to those last few work emails is not going to help you sleep. I love to have a little catch up on the news or check to see what people on my Instagram feed are up to while laying in bed and sipping on my sleepy tea, but this is just telling my brain to power up rather than power down. Picking up a book is the perfect alternative if you like something to read, but need to get rid of the infinity scroll option and the screen. Reading makes me so sleepy and works really well as tiring out my brain. There’s chapters which give you an end point – you don’t have the entire internet at your fingertips, just 20 pages or so!
If reading isn’t for you then you may want to try some meditation or breathing exercises. Watch a few videos on Youtube earlier in the day if you want to learn a few techniques, or listen to a guided meditation with sound only. You can always go back to basics and simply count your breathing in and out, 8 seconds in, 4 seconds rest and 8 seconds out. This will have you feeling calm and relaxed in minutes.
Use your bedroom for sleep only!
This is one of the most important things and the one thing that effects me the most. I’m really good at using my bedroom for sleep only as I don’t tend to watch tv or work from my bedroom, but recently I’ve started watching a movie or series in bed before sleep and find that I’ve struggled more than ever to not only get to sleep but stay asleep.
Having been in my bedroom and in bed for 2 hours or so before I want to go to sleep doesn’t trigger any change when I suddenly expect my mind to understand that it’s time to sleep and not time for entertainment. I notice this every time I let this happen so I try to make sure that anything I’m doing in the evening or in the day is done somewhere else in the house. My bedroom is solely for sleeping and this works wonders for your mind and association with sleep.
You may be living in a shared house and only have your bedroom as a place to work or socialise to try to create a separate space for these activities. Get a small desk or ladder desk if your space is limited and have this facing away from your bed. Don’t sit on or worse, in bed when working. Try creating a space where you watch tv or scroll on social media away from your bed too. This could be a chair or a few bean bags or pillows on the floor in a corner as long as it’s separate from your sleep space. If you do have limited space or these options aren’t available to you then make sure you’re utilising the other points to the max and creating a very different environment that changes your room from office/social space to sleep space.
The routine and act of getting ready for bed and winding down is what’s going to really help your body to learn when it’s time for sleep and you’ll begin to relax and unwind far more easily and in turn you’ll sleep far better.