1. Examine your daily routine first
Establishing a good bedtime routine is very important for a good night’s sleep, but your routine during the day can be just as crucial. If you work a high-stress job, for example, you could start to take this stress home with you. If you’re eating sugary foods this could potentially upset your blood glucose levels at night. It’s possible that even things like your exposure to sunlight or activity levels could play a role in keeping you awake at night!
So, where should you start? Well, the aim here isn’t to completely turn your day-time routine upside down. Small, manageable changes are always best and, with this in mind, below I’ve included a few simple changes you could make that might have a positive impact on your sleep:
- Do: Get out in the fresh air
- Avoid: Drinking coffee or tea after 2pm
- Do: Drink plenty of plain, still water
- Avoid: Stocking up on sugary, carb-rich snacks
- Do: Eat plenty of fruit, veg, healthy fats, proteins and wholemeal carbohydrates
- Avoid: Ignoring stress and taking on too many additional responsibilities
2. No heavy meals just before bed
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the old adage ‘eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper’. While I’m not about to suggest you skimp on your evening meal, you may wish to reconsider what time you’re having it at. If you’re heading to the gym straight after work or are preoccupied with other commitments, then the chances are you might end up not sitting down to dinner until after 7pm, or even 8pm.
This then means that, if you’re heading to bed between 10-11pm, your stomach is still going to be exerting a lot of energy trying to process and digest all the food you’ve just eaten. Depending on what you’ve eaten too, your blood sugar levels could also start to fluctuate, plus you may find that problems like indigestion, bloating or acid reflux start to manifest! Understandably, this can prevent you from getting to sleep in the first place and, once you are asleep, you might find it difficult to get into a deep sleep phase.
Here are a few of my top tips when it comes to eating before bedtime:
- Avoid: Eating heavy meals after 7pm
- Do: Snack on light, sleep-boosting snacks if you feel hungry
- Avoid: Sugary, fizzy drinks like lemonade or Coca-Cola
- Do: Consider remedies like Digestisan if issues like acid reflux or indigestion crop up
3. Give yourself time to wind down
Winding down is an essential part of getting ready for bed, but it’s something that most of us simply don’t feel we have time to do.
If you have a child, the chances are that your evening routine revolves around getting them ready for bed and making sure that they have everything they need for the morning ahead. Or, alternatively, you could be rushing around trying to do things at the last minute and climb into bed, with your mind still racing.
Ideally, though, the hour leading up to bed should be a restful one. This might mean that you have to reassess your routine at night and reorganise in preparation. You could try having a nice, warm bath or relax with a good book – so long as the activity doesn’t stimulate you too much!
- Do: Focus on relaxing activities such as meditation, reading a book or having a bath
- Avoid: Drinking alcohol in order to wind down
- Do: Try to organise your night-time routine so you’re not panicking at the last minute
- Avoid: Exercising for at least two hours before going to bed
- Do: Try a gentle yoga or tai chi flow
- Avoid: Allowing pets into the bedroom
- Do: Try a soothing cup of chamomile tea or write in your journal
- Avoid: Lying in bed with your mind racing – our Dormeasan sleep remedy could be a good option here if anxiety is starting to eat away at your sleep time.
4. Take some time away from your gadgets
I know that this is one issue you’re probably all tired of hearing me talk about, but trust me, devices such as your laptops, televisions, smartphones and tablets really are a major problem when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. Firstly, these types of gadgets all stimulate your nervous system – if you’re watching a dramatic film, whether you’re aware of it or not, on some level your primal ‘fight or flight’ reflexes will react, encouraging the production of cortisol.
This will naturally make you feel more alert and awake but this effect isn’t just due to the content you’re watching. Most electronic devices emit a blue light-wave that your optic nerve can easily mistake for sunlight. This then relays a message to your brain, inspiring the release of cortisol which, in turn, will reduce your secretion of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Of course, abandoning your devices an hour before bed can seem quite daunting; after all, most of us will be guilty of going to bed and scrolling on our phones, using them as an alarm to get us up in the morning. That’s why I’ve compiled some tips below to help you resist temptation!
- Do: Switch off your television at least an hour before going to bed
- Avoid: Scrolling on your smartphone or tablet once you get into bed
- Do: Find other ways of occupying your time – read a book or do mental puzzles like Sudoku
- Avoid: Keeping your smartphone next to you while you sleep
- Do: Consider switching your devices from day-mode to sleep-mode in the evening
5. Balance your fluid intake
Drinking plenty of fluids is extremely important but, if you’re downing a pint of water before heading to bed, then this may affect your sleep patterns. Usually, during the night while you’re asleep, your urinary output will be reduced; however, drinking water before you go to bed can increase your risk of nocturia, the urge to urinate at night.
This is quite a common problem with sufferers of BPH and can cause issues like sleep deprivation. That’s why you might want to look at balancing your fluid intake throughout the day, so you do not have to compensate at night right before you go to bed.
- Do: Drink plenty of water during the day – at least 1.2-2 litres
- Avoid: Drinking lots of water just before bed
- Do: Take small sips of water if you do feel thirsty
6. Keep your bed as a place for sleeping
Your bedroom environment has a lot to answer for when it comes to the quality of your sleep. If you’re sleeping in a room that’s messy or full of distractions, it could potentially prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Your bedroom, ideally, should be a place of rest – if you’re bringing work to bed with you or doing anything other than sleeping in that room, then you might come to associate it with more stressful emotions, creating a negative environment.
- Do: Make your room a restful, inviting environment
- Avoid: Bringing work materials or anything into the bedroom that you associate with stress
- Do: Make your bed a place for sleep and nothing else
- Avoid: Keeping the lights on while you sleep
- Do: Choose the right bedding and mattress
7. Don’t clock watch
If you don’t find it easy to get to sleep at night, you’ve probably found yourself watching the clock, gradually counting down the hours until you have to get up. This can raise your stress levels, causing a vicious cycle as, the more desperate you become to fall asleep, the less likely it is to happen. Eventually, you’ll find yourself tossing and turning, feeling more awake than ever despite your best efforts.
- Do: If you’re still awake after 20 minutes, try getting up and moving to a dark, cool room until you feel tired again
- Avoid: Don’t toss and turn restlessly for hours at a time
- Do: Try taking another 20 drops of Dormeasan if you wake up during the night
- Avoid: Any forms of stimulus, such as bright lights or electronic devices
8. Stick to your routine
Once you’ve established a good sleep routine, it’s important that you stick to it and don’t deviate too much. Make a conscious effort to go to bed around the same time every night and to get up at the same time every day. There will be times when it might be difficult to stay the course with your bedtime routine – if you’re on holiday, for example, or travelling away from home then adjustments will have to be made. Try not to worry too much and just do what you can – even picking out a few points on this list should hopefully help to make a big difference!