Adult Sleep Routines
Struggling with sleep? What we do in the lead up to sleep can be very effective in aiding an easy and quality night’s slumber.
Commonly (and unattractively) referred to as “sleep hygiene”, adult sleep routines are definitely worth considering and can become a lovely ritualistic part of winding down from your day.
Here are some very simple yet effective suggestions you might like to try -
Creating a space conducive to rest
Is your home space a relaxing environment to wind down in the evenings? We are greatly impacted by our surroundings so bright lights and lots of noise will certainly make or nervous systems a little jumpy and alert.
Look at soft lighting in the evenings, relaxing music and pop on your fave scented candle or essential oil to help signal your body that it is chill time. Essential oils such as lavender and chamomile have been proven to induce calm and sleep. Fresh sheets and an uncluttered bedroom will also help make your sleep space extra inviting.
Don’t Eat Too Late
Circadian rhythm is such a central component of our human physiology. Our signalling body systems - ie hormones, neurotransmitters and immune system all work best when operating in these natural cycles. This fascinating area of science called 'chronobiology' looks at the body’s ideal times for sleeping, activity, eating, even making love!
This can change slightly from person to person (and for women can change at different points in our menstrual cycles) however as human beings we generally should be eating in a 8-10 hour window during the day, away from sleep where our body can focus on the jobs it needs to do at night, rather than trying to digest a whole lot of food.
Recent science is also looking into the idea of front loading our meals - eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper. So a smaller dinner at say 6pm, and bed by 9:30pm would be a wonderful thing to try for sleep quality, as well as being good for our metabolism and general health.
Reduce Screen Exposure
We are learning more about the effects of blue light exposure on our brains, hormones and neurotransmitters and screen time before bed and when keeping you up too late might be confusing your circadian rhythms. In fact, blue light exposure has been found in studies to suppress melatonin, our major sleep promoting hormone.
Yes, you can use ‘night mode’ or orange screen apps to reduce blue light exposure before bed (these often offer only poor filtering of blue light), however switching off completely for at least 30mins before sleep can greatly improve sleep quality. You can even get orange lens glasses that you can wear in the evening to cut out blue light that can help with winding down, and red lens glasses that make you drowsy almost instantly (this is modern sleep hacking!).
Reading a book before bed is the good old fashioned way to wind down. Keep your mobile phone outside of your bedroom or out of reach if you are tempted to scroll in bed.
Have a warm bath or shower
Just before bed. As your temperature cools you are likely to get sleepy. A chapter or two of a book before sleep, or the use of a sleep app should polish off the job. A few drops of essential oil such as lavender on the shower floor tiles or oil and epsom salts in a bath will help muscles to relax.
Sleep and relaxation apps have become incredibly popular due to their high level of effectiveness.
Some of my favourites are
These short, guided mindfulness meditations are a great way to relax both body and mind and can also be used if waking in the night and finding it hard to return to sleep. Relaxing music can also be wonderful for those who prefer not to listen to words.
The aforementioned apps are also wonderful tools if needing to bring more relaxation and mindfulness into your day, and work wonders for anxiety.
For the science lovers -
Lavender and the Nervous System
Blue Light Has A Dark Side
Whitworth-Turner, C., Di Michele, R., Muir, I., Gregson, W., & Drust, B. (2017). A shower before bedtime may improve the sleep onset latency of youth soccer players. European journal of sport science, 1-10.
Chronobiology and meal times: internal and external factors
Chronotype - Evolution Explains Night Owls and Early Birds