A Night-time Routine For Better Sleep
If you struggle with sleep problems, you’re definitely not alone!28
Getting quality sleep is essential. In fact when it comes to your health and wellbeing quality sleep is as important as a healthy diet and exercise.29
Sleep helps with hormone balance which is critical for weight management and it improves physical and mental performance too. So just by sleeping well you may be able to better control your diet, exercise better and be healthier overall.29
Being unable to go to sleep or stay asleep is frustrating but the good news is that a night-time routine can improve your chances of a quality night’s sleep.28
Here are a few tips and tricks to set you up for a better sleep tonight!
• Tip 1: Increase your bright light exposure during the day29
Natural, bright sunlight during the day helps to keep your body’s natural clock, called the “circadian rhythm”, healthy. When the circadian rhythm is functioning well it improves daytime energy and regulates night-time sleep quality and duration.29
We are blessed with an abundance of sunshine in South Africa so simply step outside.
• Tip 2: Reduce blue light exposure at night29
Light exposure during the day is fantastic but not at night! This is again due to the body’s circadian rhythm. Light at night tricks your brain into thinking its still daytime and as a result the sleep hormone melatonin is not released as it should be. This means that it’s harder to fall into that relaxed, sleepy state.29
Blue light – emitted from electronic devices like smart phones and laptops – is the worst kind of light exposure in the hours before bedtime.29
Try to eliminate blue light sources for 2 hours prior to bedtime if you’re trying to improve sleep quality.29
For iPhone and Android smart phone devices there are blue light blocking apps available for download. Blue light blocking glasses may also be helpful in the evenings if you have to get some work finished late at night.29
• Tip 3: Make a to-do list
Free your mind by getting your to-do list onto a piece of paper! Spend 5 minutes each night writing a to-do list for the day ahead.28 This will stop you from thinking of everything you need to do just as you’re drifting off and also sets you up well for the day ahead which may be a relief too. This small addition to your night-time routine can really help to switch off, relax and fall asleep.
• Tip 4: Caffeine no-nos
Whilst caffeine has lots of benefits, when consumed late in the day, it stimulates the nervous system into action and may prevent the body from getting into the relaxed state needed for a good, deep sleep.29
A study published by the National Library of Medicine has shown that caffeine consumed 6 hours before sleep significantly worsened sleep quality.29
Simply put caffeine can remain active in the bloodstream for 6 to 8 hours so you’re better off sticking with decaffeinated coffee in the late afternoon and evening.29
• Tip 5: Put on some calming music
Play tranquil, soothing music as you prepare for sleep. Music is a hormone trigger that can help to induce a positive, peaceful and relaxed mood.28
Calm, instrumental tracks are the best option – skip music with lyrics!28
• Tip 6: Use a fan28
This tip is less about the cooling function of the fan and more about the white noise that the fan creates!28
White noise blocks out night noise that may be keeping you up at night – such as the sound of your ice machine refilling, the sound of your neighbours getting ready for bed, the slow hum of your fridge or perhaps the intermittent bleeps of your alarm system.
• Tip 7: Exercise regularly but not before bed29
Exercise is one of the best ways to improve the quality of your sleep.29
In fact exercise has been shown to improve all aspects of sleep including the time taken to fall asleep, the frequency of wakefulness during the night and the overall duration of sleep each night.29
There is however one caveat! Exercise is wonderful for sleep but not when performed too close to bedtime. Exercising too late in the day can actually cause sleep problems!29
The bottom line is that sleep is essential for good health!28
Trying incorporating some of the tips mentioned in this article and see if any of these help you to enjoy a longer and deeper sleep. If you still struggle to get quality sleep on a consistent basis then consider a consultation with a sleep specialist.28
Wishing you the sweetest dreams tonight!