Getting a good night’s sleep is vital to our overall health, but with the rapid pace and stresses of daily life, for many of us, it’s proving elusive. If you’re struggling to achieve a peaceful slumber, just a few small changes to your bedtime routine can make a vast difference to your sleep quality.
Set the scene
Your bedroom plays a huge part in encouraging good sleep hygiene, so it should be a sanctuary for relaxation. Lighting is critical here, from the type and timing to colour, as it drastically impacts the production of the body’s natural sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. We are programmed to rise with the sun and sleep when it sets, so using clever dimmer switches to create a warm, artificial sunset can mimic these rhythms, positively impacting your internal body clock and preparing you for sleep.
Avoid cold daylight bulbs, as they stimulate the release of serotonin and dopamine, which keeps the brain alert. Instead, opt for softer lighting, including warm fluorescents and neutral whites, and switch things up with lamps rather than stark overhead lighting. We all know that screen time at night is bad for us, but the blue light produced can negatively affect our melatonin levels. If you must use your tablet or phone in bed, switch it to a ‘night shift’ function that reduces blue light emissions.
Create an ambience
Relaxation is vital for calming the body and mind, so listening to soothing music or sounds of nature, including white noise, can encourage your body to drift into a peaceful sleep. There is also growing evidence to suggest that incorporating certain scents into your bedtime routine can significantly improve sleep patterns. According to experts, fragrances can even affect dreams, with more positive and enjoyable aromas linked to good dreams.
When choosing a fragrance, keep it specifically for the bedroom, where you will automatically associate it with sleep, and opt for a light and fresh scent that isn’t too overpowering. Reed diffusers are perfect for keeping fragrance fresh and at an optimum level, or opt for a candle to set your nocturnal scene. Sleep-inducer scents include lavender, sandalwood, and bergamot, while stimulating scents such as lemon, peppermint, and rosemary should be kept for more active parts of the day.
Follow a routine
Sticking to a regular bedtime regime is one of the most effective ways of telling your brain it’s time for bed. Setting an alarm clock simultaneously helps you power down at the end of the day and ensures you get better quality sleep over time, but remember to set it to the same time every day – even at weekends. Taking a warm bath or shower an hour or two before bedtime will encourage you to unwind by heating up your body and letting it naturally cool, which triggers sleep.
Using a scented bath and shower gel that you keep especially for this relaxation time can also help you associate the fragrance with bedtime and sleep. Don’t forget to follow up with an evening skincare routine, incorporating a similarly scented night cream or moisturiser. As we lose moisture when we sleep, hydration is vital in safeguarding sleep quality and energy levels, but be careful not to drink too much at night and increase your quota during the day. Sipping on a soothing cup of herbal tea can work wonders with helping melt away the day’s stresses while preparing you for the land of nod.