Anyone who has ever read anything about sleep hygiene will know the importance of a bed time routine. Having worked shifts for a number of years I needed to get my body back into a regular sleeping pattern. This is the routine I’ve established and I recommend.
Firstly, I dim the lights in the evening and reduce my exposure to bright light from 8pm onwards to help encourage melatonin production. I avoid blue light. I use an application on my computer which removes blue light after sunset so that if I have to use a computer my exposure to blue light is reduced. Otherwise, I avoid blue light altogether- i.e., computers, phones. This light stimulates your body to think it’s daylight and so is highly detrimental to sleep. If you can get hold of one, a bodyclock light is excellent for helping you both fall asleep and wake up again.
I take magnesium. Most people are deficient in magnesium and many women find it a useful supplement to ease PMS but, as well as this, magnesium is a sleep aid and so the best time of day to take it is before bed.
I drink a herbal tea with valerian in it and do this regularly because taking valerian as a one off generally is not that useful. Like an antihistamine or echinacea, you need to have built it up in your system for it to start working effectively.
If I’m feeling tense or stressed I do ten minutes of yoga, stretching and breathing deeply, ensuring I make my exhales long and slow. This helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which makes you feel calmer.
Reading helps but I recommend listening to a podcast or an audiobook if you’re not a reader. Be mindful of the blue light exposure this might create if you are listening on a phone or tablet though.
Around 20-30mins before bed I light an oil burner with lavender oil. Lavender is a sophorific herb and an excellent aromatherapy sleep aid. You may also like to try a sleep balm that contains lavender and bergamot that you apply to pulse points before bed.
Finally, if there is noise and excess light coming through my curtains, I use ear plugs and an eye mask. Sometimes these can be an irritation but on the whole, they enhance my sleep brilliantly.
This is a picture of my bedside table. I keep magnesium next to my bed to remind me to take it before bed and vitmain d is there to remind me to take it first thing. This is my lumie bodyclock and it is one of the best things I own, I can’t recommend it enough when you live in a country like Britain and it is dark until 8am in the winter.
It is well known that sleep is important for many reasons but, in particular, if you suffer digestive problems under sleeping can mean you will wake up with IBS symptoms before you’ve even eaten anything. If you want to understand your sleep better and how best to optimise is it, you MUST read Night School by Professor Richard Wiseman.
A routine is the best way to get your body in the habit of knowing it’ll be time to sleep soon. You could even set an alarm or two on your phone to prompt you to start your routine. Finally, make sleep your priority. It is essential for so many aspects of health and mental health and when you’re sleeping well, you’ll have more energy to make positive changes in your life.