Ah, tis the season. The season for excitement, planning, stress and jam-packed schedules. All of which can interfere with your precious sleep. Are you finding it hard to switch off at night? These life hacks might just help you to rescue your zzz’s and wake up feeling ready to take on the world.
1. Pick a bedtime and make it a habit
Your body loves a routine. By sticking to the same bedtime for six nights a week, your brain knows when to expect slumber and it’ll start to wind down in preparation. Going to bed super late one night and then trying to make up for it the next by hunkering down at 7pm will lead to irregular sleep cycles and confusion for your weary mind. Give yourself 20-30 minutes for your routine and include everything that needs to be done in that time. Whether that be brushing your teeth, having a quick shower, checking the back door's locked or ensuring all appliances are switched off - take it into account and make it part of the routine.
2. Take care of your worry list
Often, bedtime is when our worries come out to play. If you lead a busy life (who doesn’t?), the peace and darkness of the bedroom can sometimes be lighter fuel for your brain to carry on at superspeed and delve through your mental to-do list. This can leave you feeling exhausted and stressed out, which are direct catalysts for poor sleep. Try keeping a notepad on your bedside table. If worries and random anxious thoughts spring up, jot them down and save them for review tomorrow.
3. Pay attention to digestion
Don’t go to bed hungry or excessively full. Both of these will keep you awake, as your digestive system either salivates over the thought of a cheeky midnight snack, or does battle with the spicy curry you washed down with a beer just a couple of hours ago. Be mindful of what you drink, too – caffeine will have a stimulating effect that can take hours to wear off, so avoid tea, coffee and caffeinated soft drinks after 6pm.
4. Hydrate the healthy way
Caffeine is out, but water is in. Not TOO close to bedtime, of course, but a soothing fruit infusion taken an hour before bed is the perfect way to wind down your senses and top up your body’s vital stores. Try some lavender in your Infruition bottle – place a couple of stalks in your chamber and top up just before bed to keep by your pillow for night time sipping. Mums who have disrupted sleep patterns because of night feeds need to stay extra hydrated around the clock too, so a bottle of water constantly on hand is never a bad thing.
5. Activate ‘night mode’ on your electronic devices
We now know that the blue hues emitted from phones can interfere with our sleep cycles, and so scientific guidance urges us to switch off our electronics entirely overnight. But…who does this, ever? So, many phones and tablets now come with an option to set a night mode, where the screen light changes between the sleepy hours that you programme in according to your routine. Yellow and red tones create a dimmed, soft appearance to counteract the bold blue, and help you to get back to sleep quickly even if you simply must check your emails at 3am.
6. Bedtime reading
We’re not talking War and Peace or anything too meaty – but transporting yourself to another world before bed can really help to switch your brain off from your own day to day activities and prepare you for a night of sweet dreams. Make a point of turning in half an hour before you actually want to lay down for sleep, set your light so it’s just bright enough to read by, and let those cortisol levels slide.
7. Pay attention to the air quality
If your bedroom gets no natural ventilation during the day, it can feel stuffy and restrictive when bedtime rolls around. Make sure a window is open for part of the day – even in the depths of winter, having a blast of fresh air really helps to cleanse the room and let sleepy smells from the night before drift out. Ideally, leave one window on the catch through the night to keep the circulation going.
8. Take daily exercise
It’s so important to get up and about where possible during the day – moving your body releases endorphins for that feel-good factor, as well as keeping your physical strength in tip-top shape. Your body regenerates and replenishes while you sleep, so make sure it has some work to do! Even a brisk walk each afternoon is enough to stretch out those muscles and burn some calories.
9. Comfort is king
Did you know that most mattresses have a ‘life expectancy’ of 8-9 years, and should be replaced after this time? Your mattress and pillows might feel as comfortable as an old pair of favourite slippers, but they might have passed their sell-by date ergonomically. Look for bedding that supports your body in your preferred sleeping style, and consider hypoallergenic pillows if you have respiratory sensitivities.
10. Evaluate your environment
Is your bed right next to the window or radiator, or external wall? Is your bedfellow a stonking snorer? Does the sunlight burst in, waking you up at 4am in the summer? All of these things can contribute to disrupted sleep patterns and poor quality snoozes. We’re not suggesting that you max out on feng shui, but consider some small changes to target the key factors stopping you from reaching a dreamy zenith. Blackout blinds, dehumidifiers and even snoring strips can really help to create the perfect setting for sleep.
What tips do you have to help you sleep? Let is know in the comments below.