- Category: Articles
- Published on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 05:17
Sleep experts such as those at Harvard Medical School Division of Sleep Medicine tell us that having a good bedtime routine is one of the top tips for getting a good night’s sleep, and for those of us who have trouble getting off to sleep, this tip is even more important.
So what makes up a good bedtime routine?
A bedtime routine is what you do to prepare your body and mind for bed. It should be relaxing and get you into a tranquil mood. Over time, this ritual will become a habit and will be a flag to your body to get ready for sleep.
1. Go to bed (and wake up) at the same time every day – Choose a time when you feel tired and stick to the routine even on weekends when you feel you might like to stay up late. Don’t fight sleep – fighting it won’t help you develop good sleep habits.
2. If you feel you need a snack before bed, try a combination of carbohydrate-rich foods and dairy foods – Coffee is a stimulant and fatty foods activate digestion which can disrupt sleep so these should be avoided before bed. Instead, try Carbohydrate-rich foods together with dairy foods as combined they increase the level of sleep-inducing tryptophan in the blood. If you are in need of a snack before bed, try cereal and milk or cheese and crackers.
3. Change into nightwear that is light and breathable – Comfortable nightwear will keep you cool and comfortable during sleep.
4. Do something relaxing to get you in the mood for sleep – Avoid activating your brain before bed. Internet surfing, texting, emailing, watching TV etc all activate your brain. Take this one step further and ban any electronic devices from your bedroom. Electronic devices all emit electromagnetic waves which scientific studies have shown can disturb sleep. Instead, try listening to calming music to prepare you for sleep.
5. Calm your thoughts – Anxiety and stress can have adverse effects on sleep. Mulling over the day’s events or worrying about events in the future can make it very difficult to sleep. Try some deep breathing exercises and visualise yourself in a tranquil place. These will help to calm you mind and prepare it for sleep.
6. Turn off the bedside light – Make sure your bedside lamp is turned off to sleep. Recent scientific studies have shown that light disturbs circadian rhythms during sleep and affects the sleep hormone melatonin.