A good pre-sleep routine can help you achieve better quality sleep and improve your overall health and wellbeing. It doesn’t have to be difficult - check out these five simple steps to developing your perfect pre-sleep routine.
1. Think carefully about what you consume
What you consume in the hours before bedtime can affect your quality of sleep.
You don’t want to go to bed on an empty stomach, or be too full either. If your stomach often grumbles as you settle down for the night, have a light snack an hour before you go to bed.
Avoid eating big or spicy meals two or three hours before bed as this can lead to indigestion.
Try to avoid stimulants like caffeine or nicotine for at least six hours before you go to bed as they can make it harder to fall asleep. Alcohol can negatively affect sleep quality, so try not to drink it close to bedtime.
2. Have a set bedtime
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day (including weekends). Being consistent can help regulate your body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm) so you will naturally start feeling tired at bedtime. This can make it easier to achieve deep, restorative sleep. If you struggle with this, set an alarm to remind yourself to start getting ready for bed each night.
You may also want to determine how many hours of sleep you need. For most adults, this will range from 7-9 hours. Experiment with different amounts of sleep to work out what is right for you, then stick to it.
3. Make your bedroom comfortable
It’s important that you associate your bedroom with sleep rather than work, stress or entertainment. Electronic devices like mobile phones and television can weaken this link as they can stimulate the brain. Avoid the use of electronics before bed and reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex.
Make sure the room is appropriately dark, quiet, and tidy. The ideal temperature for sleep is between 18C and 24C. If you live in a noisy area, buy a pair of earplugs or invest in double glazing. Install thick curtains to block out any street lighting.
Your mattress and pillows should be both comfortable and supportive. This may mean changing your mattress every nine or 10 years as it can wear over time and collect dust and allergens.
4. Prepare for the day ahead
If you often lie awake worrying about tomorrow, it may help to organise yourself the night before. Write a to-do list if you are concerned about forgetting things.
5. Get some rest and relaxation
Relaxing in the evening can help you manage stress and get better quality sleep. There are lots of ways to calm your body and mind, including:
- reading a book
- relaxation exercises like light yoga stretches (nothing too active, as this can make you more alert)
- practicing meditation or mindfulness
- listening to the radio or music
- taking a warm bath
Avoid watching television or using mobile phones or computers as they can trigger brain activity, making it harder to fall asleep.
If you’ve tried all this and you still can’t sleep, don’t stay in bed watching the hours tick by. It’s better to get up. Relax with another activity until you feel sleepy.