Trouble sleeping? – The value of a bedtime routine

So, you have sorted your sleeping environment but sleep is still evading you. Lets investigate your bedtime routine. Its not just for babies and small children. Here are some ideas to help:

Food & drink

If you can, eat your main meal during the day and try not to eat anything heavy for at least 3 hours before you go to bed. If your schedule doesn’t allow for this then try and eat foods that include tryptophan such as: bananas, turkey, chicken, cheese, eggs, fish and carbohydrates.

What you drink before bed is also very important – coffee, alcohol and caffeine based drinks are a definite no-no. Alcohol, whilst initially relaxing, will dehydrate you and wake you up in the middle of the night. Warm milk, Redbush or herbal tea will be far more relaxing and sleep inducing.


TV and digital distractions

Try to stop watching TV, surfing the net and messaging your mates 2 hours before bedtime to give your brain and body time to get into sleep mode. If your favourite program is on at this time then record it to watch another time.


Pre-sleep routine

A hot bath, which contains relaxing essential oils, 2 hours before bed will raise your body temperature a couple of degrees. The subsequent drop in temperature once you are in bed can help to induce a deep sleep. If you don’t have a bath, a hot shower will have a similar impact but its not as effective.

You could follow up the bath or shower with body lotions or oils that are sleep inducing to heighten the affect.

When you get into bed you can try spritzing your bed sheets and pillows with a relaxing pillow mist to envelop your senses with relaxing scents. Make sure that your bed clothes are not restrictive in anyway and will not make you overheat in the night.


How long to sleep

The Sleep Foundation’s recent report states that the average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours sleep a night. This means that if you need to wake up at 7am you should be asleep by 11pm to get approximately 7 hours sleep. On average your body takes roughly 15 minutes to fall asleep so you should be in bed, with the lights off by 10.45pm. There are a number of sleep calculators on the internet that you can use to help you find your perfect time to get to sleep.


Plan your evening (based on 7 hours sleep)

Wake up time Finish eating Turn of devices Have a bath Be in bed Fall asleep
7.00am 8.00pm 8.30pm 8.45pm 10.45pm  11.00pm
6.30am 7.30pm 8.00pm 8.15pm 10.15pm 10.30pm

Our bodies don’t know that its a Friday or Saturday night so whenever possible (and for those of you who know me personally will know that I fail at this weekly!) try to maintain your normal bedtime routine. The old adage ‘an hour before midnight is worth two after’ has more than a grain of truth to it, so you should aim to go to sleep the same day you woke up!




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