You're finally settling in for the night. You're exhausted and need to relax. But as soon as the lights go out and your head hits the pillow, your mind starts to race. You struggle to get to sleep but don't know what to do, leaving you frustrated, tired and cranky.
It can be tempting to look for ways to “shut off” your brain to get to sleep but it’s better to think about ways to switch off both your brain and your body as the two are connected. The key is to build a habit of relaxing and unwinding before bed.
Here are our top 14 tips:
1. Take a warm bath or shower
The warm water can help relax your muscles and soothe your mind. Adding Epsom salt or essential oils to the water can enhance the calming effects.
2. Practice deep breathing exercises
Deep breathing can help calm the mind and reduce stress. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to focus on your breath and let go of any racing thoughts.
3. Try progressive muscle relaxation
This technique involves slowly tensing and relaxing different muscle groups, starting at your toes and working up to your head. Tense the muscles in your foot for a few seconds, then release and relax. Repeat this process with each muscle group, gradually working your way up the body. This can help release tension and promote relaxation.
4. Listen to calming music or sounds
Soft music or nature sounds can help you relax and fall asleep. Consider using a white noise machine or an app like Calm or Headspace that offers guided relaxation or meditation tracks.
5. Write in a journal
Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and feelings can help clear your mind and relax you. Writing can be a therapeutic way to process emotions and let go of stress before bed.
6. Read a book
Engaging in a relaxing activity, such as reading a book, can help you wind down before bed. Choose a book that is enjoyable but not too stimulating, and try to limit screen time before bed as the blue light can disrupt your sleep cycle.
7. Practice yoga or mindfulness
Both yoga and mindfulness can help relax the mind and body. Some studies have shown Mindfulness can reduce anxiety, depression and insomnia! Yoga can be especially helpful as it combines physical movement with breathing techniques and mindfulness. There are plenty of online resources and classes available, so you can find a practice that works for you.
8. Exercise in the day (but not the night)
Fresh air and physical activity can help clear your mind and relax your body. Try to avoid exercising just before bed since it has been shown to keep you awake, but a leisurely walk can be a great way to wind down.
9. Use essential oils
Certain essential oils, such as lavender or chamomile, can have calming effects on the mind and body. Try using a diffuser with these oils, use a pillow spray or apply a roll-on to your pulse points.
10. Do some light stretching
Gentle stretches can help relax your muscles and improve your circulation, which can help you fall asleep more easily. Try some simple stretches for your neck, shoulders, and back, or do a few yoga poses like child's pose or legs up the wall.
11. Make your bedroom dark and quiet
When you're ready to sleep, your bedroom should have a calming influence on your body. It is recommended that you keep the lights dark and minimize exposure to outside noise. Blocking light with blackout blinds or a quality sleep mask can help.
12. Maintain a comfortable temperature
It is also important to maintain a comfortable temperature. Experts normally suggest 15 to19 degrees but it’s really depends on the person so you should find a temperature that works for you. Quality bedding - such as a mulberry silk pillowcase - that helps wick moisture away from the body can make a real difference here.
13. Avoid drinking too much water before bed
While you should drink enough water during the day to stay hydrated, avoid drinking too much before night if frequent visits to the toilet make you feel uncomfortable and cause your brain to remain awake and alert!
14. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day (yes, even at weekends) helps you sleep better at night and feel more alert when you wake.
Conclusion: Find what works for you
Incorporating some of these relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine can help you get a better night's sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Experiment with different techniques and find what works best for you. Remember to prioritize self-care and make time to relax and unwind before bed.