Try these expert-approved steps to help you get more sleep
Hands up if you’d like to get more sleep? Around a third of us struggle with insomnia, but if counting sheep doesn’t work for you, then fear not – the simple act of creating a relaxing bedtime routine could be just what you need to lull you into a deep slumber.
‘When you’re stressed or anxious, it is much more difficult to sleep,’ explains sleep expert Dr Lindsay Browning, a chartered psychologist, neuroscientist and author. ‘Without a night-time routine before bed you might find that you’re still alert from late-night working or gaming, which makes falling asleep harder. But if you implement a wind-down routine, it can help you put the day to rest and get your body and mind in a calm and relaxed state before bed.’
Read on to discover the five simple steps you can take to create a relaxing bedtime routine for yourself.
Yes, even at weekends. It might sound boring, but sticking to a nightly bedtime and wake time can be an effective way of programming our bodies to sleep when we need it. ‘Having a regular bedtime and wake time helps your circadian rhythm to send strong signals to make you feel sleepy at night and alert in the morning,’ explains Lindsay. ‘If you change your bedtime or wake time significantly, you are effectively giving yourself jetlag.’
“If you change your bedtime or wake time significantly, you are effectively giving yourself jetlag”
‘Blue light, such as that emitted from LED devices like tablets or phones, actively suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep,’ says Lindsay. ‘When you experience darkness your body starts to produce melatonin, which helps you feel sleepy. Conversely, when you see bright light, your body will stop producing as much melatonin, because it thinks that it is still daytime.’ If you think you’ll struggle to leave your phone outside of your bedroom because you use it as an alarm, invest in a good old-fashioned analogue clock, such as the Acctim Ramsey Curved Silent Sweep Analogue Alarm Clock, instead.
“Blue light from tablets or phones suppresses the production of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep”
It will come as no surprise to hear that reducing the amount of caffeine you drink through the day can improve your sleep. ‘Caffeine has a six-hour half life, which means that six hours after your last cup of tea or coffee, half of that caffeine will still be in your system, potentially stopping you from sleeping,’ explains Lindsay. ‘If you reduce how much caffeine you’re drinking, especially towards bedtime, you will likely find yourself less alert when it’s time to sleep.’
"Six hours after your last cup of tea or coffee, half of that caffeine will still be in your system”
‘A warm bath or shower before bed is an excellent way of artificially raising your body temperature,’ says Lindsay. ‘When we get out of the warm bath or shower we will start to cool down, which mimics what happens just before we fall asleep, helping us to feel more sleepy and ready for bed.’ Not only that, but adding a warm bath or shower to your bedtime routine can be incredibly relaxing, especially with a few drops of a soothing bath and shower gel like Molton Brown Blissful Templetree Bath & Shower Gel.
“When we get out of a warm bath we start to cool down, which mimics what happens just before we fall asleep”
One of the silver linings of the pandemic is the huge number of brilliant workout videos that are now available online. If you want to add some gentle yoga or stretching to your night-time routine, try searching YouTube or look for a daily subscription. ‘Yoga or stretching before bed are both great wind-down activities, because they can help to calm your brain and relax your body before bed,’ says Lindsay. Need an incentive? Why not treat yourself to a new yoga mat, such as the M Life Mendhi 5mm Yoga Mat.
“Yoga or stretching can help to calm your brain and relax your body before bed”