- Excessive noise
- Bedroom temperature
- Caffeine or alcohol
- Shift patterns
- Mental health issues
- Certain medicines
A continuous lack of sleep has many implications on our wellbeing and can cause us to feel bad-tempered, agitated, impatient and lacking focus. But there are also more serious side effects that can take a toll on our mental and physical health, which can result in diabetes, heart disease and traffic accidents. By creating a bedtime routine and making small lifestyle changes, it becomes easier to unwind, relax and sleep better.
Why we need bedtime routinesAdopting a bedtime routine where you get into calming habits such as reading, taking a bath or meditating 30-60 minutes before you go to sleep can really assist your body and mind into knowing when it’s time to go to sleep. So, what are the benefits of a healthy bedtime routine and better sleep?
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Improves memory and focus
- Improves mood
- Reduces risk of heart disease
- Reduces risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes
In a study undertaken by Jessica Lunsford-Avery, an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, it was found that “The more irregular these sleep patterns, the higher risk for obesity, hypertension and elevated blood sugar, and the higher the projected risk of developing heart disease over the next decade.”
How can we adopt a healthy bedtime routine?1. Stick to a set time to go to bed
It’s important to train your brain into knowing when it’s time to go to sleep and when to wake up, which we often call our body clock. By sticking to the same routines, your brain will soon become accustomed to bedtime and will automatically let you know when you are tired.
2. Switch off electronics
All electronic devices, including televisions, mobile phones and computers emit a blue light that fools your brain into believing that it’s daytime, thus producing less melatonin. This will ultimately keep you awake and prevent you from falling asleep.
3. Have a light, healthy snack
While it’s widely known that eating a heavy meal before bedtime can cause acid reflux and indigestion, a lighter healthy snack and a warm caffeine-free drink can settle your stomach and induce sleep.
4. Have a warm bath
Slipping into a warm bath an hour before bedtime will increase your body heat, and once you step out of the bath, it then begins to cool, making you feel more relaxed and sleepier.
5. Practise meditation or breathing exercises
Both meditation and deep breathing exercises help promote relaxation. As well as relaxing your muscles and helping you let go of any tension, it will quieten your mind in preparation for a good night’s sleep.
6. Listen to relaxing music
Not only can music distract you from everyday stresses, but it can also help both your body and mind relax, easing you into a more peaceful sleep.
7. Prepare your bedroom
It’s important that your bedroom is a calm and tranquil space where you feel comfortable and at peace. Make sure it’s the correct temperature, quiet and dimly lit. You could even light a scented candle to add to the calming ambience, but ensure you extinguish it before you fall asleep.