Winding down before bedtime

Winding down before bedtime

It’s happened to all of us; you plan for an early night, but decide to squeeze in just one more episode, or one more chapter and before you know it, it’s late and you’re wide awake!

While it can be difficult to completely shut off the multitude of thoughts running through your mind, getting into a stable bedtime routine can help. We humans are creatures of habit, and our bodies crave routine, putting a wind down routine in place can signal to our bodies that it’s time to get some much needed shut eye.

Consistency is key in establishing a night time routine, the most important aspect is sticking to it, which is easier said than done as summer approaches and the social calendar is bursting. Find out what bedtime activities work best for you and your body will begin to associate these actions with winding down. 

We’ve popped together some ways to wind down at bedtime to help you get your best sleep.

Read a book
An alternative to binge watching at bedtime, grab a book and escape into the world on the pages in front of you. Physical books work best (remember the blue light), however any kind of reading will help you to relax.

Separate work from bed
While so many of us have been working from home, it’s almost become a habit to have one last peruse of work emails or documents right before bed. Create a separation between your home office and bed so when it’s time to sleep, you enter zone where you can really relax and not think about work related worries.

Put on some tunes
No matter what your chosen wind down activity is, listening to calm or soothing background music can help with your relaxation. 

Stretching or light yoga
Stretching exercises help to relax your muscles and relieve tension after a long day. Stretches such as child’s pose, thread the needle, Sphinx pose, knee to chest stretch and supine twists are all recommended.

A warm bath or shower
While the time of day you shower or bathe is a personal preference, a growing body of evidence suggests that a night time shower may help to signal to the brain that it is time to sleep.

Have a cup of tea
For centuries people have looked to plants to help with their ailments. Herbal teas are a great option and have long been used to help with relaxation and promote a better night’s sleep. Look for the following ingredients to help;
Chamomile - Flowers of the chamomile plant have been used for many years to treat a variety of issues, including poor sleep.
Lemon Balm - a herb that can help in lowering stress and aid sleep
Lavender - it’s soothing scent will help you unwind
Valerian root - Valerian is an herb that has been used for centuries to treat problems like insomnia, nervousness, and headaches.

Take a breath
There are a number of breathing exercises you can try, to relax and fall asleep, you may have your own, the trick is finding what works best for you. Regardless of what technique you’re trying, it’s always a good idea to close your eyes, which may help you shut out distractions. Focus on your breathing and think about the healing power of your breath.
4-7-8 breathing technique:
  1. Allow your lips to gently part.
  2. Exhale completely, making a breathy whoosh sound as you do.
  3. Press your lips together as you silently inhale through the nose for a count of 4 seconds.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  5. Exhale again for a full 8 seconds, making a whooshing sound throughout.
  6. Repeat 4 times when you first start. Eventually work up to 8 repetitions.
Dr. Andrew Weil developed this technique as a variation of pranayama, an ancient yogic technique that helps people relax as it replenishes oxygen in the body.

Watch your screen time
Watching an episode of your favourite show, or doing a last minute scroll of social media before bed does help some people to wind down before sleep.

Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from devices such as smart phones negatively affect your circadian rhythm. Some devices allow you to adjust the blue light level, or schedule when to adjust this level. Any type of bright light signals to your brain that it’s wake up time so it’s recommended to cut your screen time 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.

An alternative to binge watching at bedtime; grab a book and escape into the world on the pages in front of you. Physical books work best (remember the blue light), however any kind of reading will help you to relax.

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