Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our day-to-day routine because, as we covered in our sleep cycles guide, it is a time for the body to repair and grow, and allows for learning and reflection time for the brain. The quality of your sleep is just as important, if not more so, than the length of your sleep, so understanding how to get to sleep easier is essential for your routine.
In the following guide, we will explore how you can prepare yourself for sleep in order to get better quality sleep, and more out of your day.
Preparing during the day
The best way to ensure you sleep well at night is to prepare well during the day. Having a routine can bring many benefits. By doing activities during the day, you will tire yourself out and be more likely to sleep at the right time. Eating well, which means avoiding food and drink with high sugar, caffeine and alcohol content in the evening, will decrease the amount of time you spend trying to get to sleep, and will also improve the quality of your sleep.
You can wind down before bed by avoiding bright screens and instead opting to read a book, or listen to some relaxing music. Calming and decaf teas will also help by encouraging your body to release melatonin – the sleep hormone. You can also set up diffusers or candles to fill your home with relaxing scents.
Do some exercise to loosen up your muscles, but avoid energetic activities before bed – such as running – as this may do the opposite and wake your brain up.
Racing thoughts about the day’s worries can make it very difficult to switch off, and can cause added stress. Bedtime is about turning off and relaxing, and this can not be achieved if you are worrying.
Mindfulness is the act of calming the brain by taking different mental actions. You could try confronting your worries by getting your thoughts out of the way before bed, writing them down, or discussing them with someone. There are a number of programs and apps that you can use to get to grips with some mindfulness techniques, and doing so regularly will not only improve your sleep, but your overall mental wellbeing.
Prepare your environment for sleep
As well as lighting candles or setting up diffusers, there are a number of ways you can prepare your house or room for sleep. Firstly, if there are any chores you have to do that are on your mind, such as tidying, do them before you settle in for sleep, or make a note to do them tomorrow. Living in clutter can cause stress and reduce comfort, so avoid putting off organising this.
Ensure your bedding is clean and fresh. This is good for hygiene, but also general comfort. If your bedding is soft and fluffy, and smells clean, you will find it easier and more rewarding to relax into it.
Consider upgrading your curtains to blackout curtains or blinds as these will make your room more dark and encourage sleep. If you struggle with temperature at night, set up a fan near your window to extract the hot air from your room. Ensure any fans are low energy and are quiet, as loud fans may distract you. Alternatively, if you struggle with being cold, make sure you wrap up in well-insulated blankets and bedding. See our guides for hot and cold sleeping here.
Finally, move your phone away from you and set it to Do Not Disturb, and consider sleeping with earplugs if there are noise distractions – this may not be ideal for everyone though, as they can cause discomfort. For the most comfortable earplugs, aim for soft foam ones.
If you still can not sleep, try to avoid getting stressed out by this fact, as this will only make it harder to drift into sleep. Instead, do something relaxing, like reading a book or listening to some calming music. Again, avoid phones or things that may make it harder to sleep. It is completely natural to struggle with sleep – many of us do – but a good routine is the first step to achieving it, and better sleep will come with time and consistency.