How to create a wind-down routine that gets you ready for sleep

Struggling to drift off?

We know it’s not what you want to hear right now, but here’s something to bear in mind: it might be down to a poor bedtime routine.

To get into sleep mode, your body and mind need a proper wind-down.

Doomscrolling should not be a part of that pre-bedtime ritual. Neither should a boozy nightcap.

And you definitely shouldn’t be going straight from work or TV watching to snooze time, expecting your eyes to immediately close and your mind to drift off.

What should you be doing before heading to bed? Psychologist and nutritionist Dr Naomi Newman-Beinart shares her top tips.

Switch off the screens

We know, it’s shocking: we’re trying to convince you to not have your phone plugged in right by your pillow.

Get an actual alarm clock. Put your screens in a different room. This is important.

‘This tip is the most obvious but it is also the most important tip to adopt,’ says Dr Naomi. ‘Many studies have found that using digital devices right before you go to sleep increases your chances of having a broken sleep or leaves you struggling to get to sleep quickly.

‘This is because these social media apps leave our brain feeling wired due to the types of content we view.

‘Not only this, but the blue light emitted from the devices can also leave us feeling more awake than is ideal at bedtime.

‘If you feel stressed before bed, be it because of work or for any other reasons, the best thing you can do is give yourself one to two hours of zero screen time right before you plan to sleep.

‘Try to get into the habit of switching off everything by 8pm and indulge in a bath or a book as this will help to calm your mind and allow it to slowly switch off naturally to allow for a good night’s sleep.’

Create a sleep sanctuary

Your bedroom needs to be a calming retreat that puts you in that chilled, restful head space.

Make it somewhere you actually want to be. Fill it with cosy textures, add colours that soothe your mind, and avoid excess mess.

‘If you sleep in a messy room this only promotes a disorganized and messy mind,’ says Naomi. ‘You may find it difficult to switch off or relax knowing you are in a room that looks and feels chaotic, and it may also leave you to feel agitated and unsettled, which will make falling asleep even harder.

‘Try to keep the area you sleep in tidy and minimal. Use neutral colors for furnishings, keep the lights dim and try and not overwhelm the area with too much stuff, essentially.

‘I would also opt for crisp white bed linen as this can trick your mind into thinking you’re in a hotel which may lead to a better sleep. Try aromatherapy room diffusers and anything else you think will help you unwind.’

Try meditation and breathwork

‘Meditation and breathwork are great ways to help calm and switch off the brain before bed,’ says Naomi. ‘Breathwork is a holistic practice which is aimed at calming anxiety and reducing any feelings of stress or anguish. Essentially it is about slowing your breath and focusing on your breathing, which allows you to clear your mind and pay closer attention to your body.

‘Meditation is similar but is more focused on clearing the mind completely. If you can do 15 minutes of meditation before bed you are more likely to fall asleep quickly due to emptying your mind of daily stresses.’

Create a self-care routine

What makes you feel good?

Maybe it’s a bath, or reading a book, or listening to a podcast about murder (hey, we don’t judge).

Whatever it is, create your own nightly self-care routine where you do something that’s just for you and your relaxation.

The routine bit is important. If you do this every night before bed, you’ll start to signal to your brain that when you have a bath, or crack open a book, it’s time to shift into rest mode.

Try herbal remedies

There’s a real temptation to reach for booze when you’re struggling to sleep – don’t do it.

Alcohol might seem like it does the trick, but it actually serves to disrupt sleep further… which might explain why you still feel so tired the next day.

Instead, give herbal remedies a go.

‘Herbal ingredients found in herbal teas and nighttime supplements are an effective way to help calm and soothe your body and mind before you head to bed,’ says Naomi. ‘Ingredients such as chamomile, lavender, lemon balm and mint are all known for their relaxing properties, and most can be found in household tea brands.

‘Supplements which support mental wellbeing through ingredients such as ashwagandha, chamomile and lavender are also beneficial and an easy way to to help reduce any evening stress.’

Read a book

Dr Naomi suggests: ‘Reading is the age old night time activity that is guaranteed to relax your mind and send you off into a deep sleep.

‘Swapping your phone for a book can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep and allows your mind to switch off slowly as it only has to focus on one thing.

‘The act of reading naturally allows us to start feeling sleepy, and if you read in bed you may find that after just half an hour of reading you are starting to drift off.

‘The transition from using your phone to reading a book may be hard at first, but with practice you might soon find that books become your best friend when it comes to creating a relaxing night time routine.’

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