Whether it’s life stress or perhaps diagnosed insomnia, there are a myriad of factors which might stand between you and a good night’s sleep.
The good news, though, is that there are select ways in which you can help your mind and body to relax before bed.
We’ve consolidated the best of them into a 10-step nightly routine which is sure to get you to sleep before any mention of sheep-counting.
1. Set A Routine
It’s a cliché, but good sleep really does start with a good routine.
If you set your slumber for the same time each night, then your body’s circadian rhythms will start to sync.
Just make sure, though, that you don’t shut your eyes straight after undertaking intensive mental or physical work.
Also make sure that there is no light in the bedroom, whether it’s flashing lights on electronic devices or a street light streaming in from outside.
Consider installing a set of blinds or curtains if you haven’t already.
Studies have proven that those who exercise, and particularly long-distance runners, have markedly less sleep-related issues compared to those who don’t.
Beyond that, exercise is a great stress-reliever in itself, meaning that you’re sure to feel lighter by the time you hit the hay (so long, of course, as you get your sweat on at least a few hours before bed).
3. Unburden Yourself
Sometimes it isn’t possible to just forget about a major stressor, but if you can avoid thinking about a piece of work or another unfinished task by actually getting it done before you go to bed, then you’ll be in a much better position to drift off.
Better yet, you’ll avoid those awful anxiety-dreams which just replay the stress that you’re experiencing in reality!
4. Pamper Yourself
The chances are that the night-time hours are some of the few that you get to yourself in the day.
Take advantage of them to do a face mask, have a hot bath, or meditate – all self-care activities which will nourish body and mind at the same time as they prime you for sleep.
5. Beverage bliss
Herbal tea, cocoa, nutmeg-spiced milk, brandy: all these beverages and more will increase your drowsiness, but just make sure that your chosen drink is caffeine-free and hot.
6. Choose Your Wind-Down Activity Carefully
If your way of winding down is to watch an episode of your favourite Netflix show, no problem – but just make sure that it’s not so exciting that you feel more awake by the closing credits than you did when you pressed play!
Whether it’s a movie or scrolling through social media, the goal is to relax, not to over-stimulate yourself.
The above said, the most scientifically-backed strategy to reduce your stress for shut-eye is to read for a twenty- or thirty- minute spell. There’s just something about words on a page that gets us sleepy…
8. Sublime Scents
The whole lavender thing isn’t just an old wives’ tale; aromatherapy actually does send you off to sleep more effectively.
Rather than just rubbing essential oil on the underside of your pillow, though, naturopaths recommend putting medically-approved oils beneath your tongue.
9. Hop On The ASMR Bandwagon
Code for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, ASMR refers to an experience of pleasant bodily tingling which has been proven to help with insomnia.
This kind of response can result from, among other things, listening to specific sounds – of rainfall, for example, or even of turning a book’s pages.
10. Try A Yoga-Inspired Corpse Pose
Truly set yourself up for sleep by performing an at-home Shavasana, a “corpse pose” which involves the relaxation of every part of your body, from the toes to the facial features.
It’s amazing how much tension you can hold onto until you consciously choose to let go of it!
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