You are getting sleepy…or maybe not. Whether you are working 9 to 5, or studying full time, getting enough sleep is an absolute necessity so every day doesn’t start with a struggle to get out of bed. Some people find it easy to jump into bed and drift off to slumber land as soon as their head hits the pillow. Others have great difficulty in keeping appointments with the sandman. Winding down before bedtime can help you get off to sleep easily, here are some tips that might make quality sleep come a little quicker.
Routine is everything
As boring as it may sound, The Sleep Health Foundation says keeping a fairly regular sleep routine is the key to getting to sleep easily. Staying up late on weekends can push the body’s clock out of whack, making it harder to get to sleep on nights before work or school. If you go to bed too late, there is obviously less time left before you need to get up to get started in the morning.
Part of the process of keeping to a routine is sticking to a daily wind down ritual, such as this one by the YogaandHealing.com.au. The body will pick up the regular cues before bed if the same basic order is kept for a period of time. It is also useful if time is spent on some relaxing activity for an hour or so before it’s time to get ready for bed. Listening to soothing music can help with the transition to drowsiness.
Calm your mind
Another piece of old fashioned advice, but a good one. Going to bed in a highly emotional or stressed state may keep people awake worrying about problems that are better solved in the light of day. It can be tricky, but if there are important issues that need resolving, they should be discussed in the early evening well before starting to wind down for the night. This article gives a good overview of the science that now backs up the myth.
Take an aromatic bath
Many people take a shower in the morning as a wake-up technique, but taking a warm bath in the evening can be a way to calm nerves and relax muscles. A drop or two of Lavender or Chamomile essential oil in the water can add to the relaxing effect. As this article from health.com explains, the effect of slightly raising the body temperature can also help bring on sleepiness later in the evening.
Turn out the light
It’s well known that the amount of light entering the human eye has a huge effect on the built in body clock. While soft lights are okay, try to avoid looking at electric light sources like TV, phone and computer screens before it’s time to sleep. The body will respond by thinking it’s still day time, and will not let you start winding down to a sleepy state, as explained by this article about how eyes react to light.
Drink something warm
But not tea or coffee, even hot chocolate can act as a stimulant, while warm milk on its own can help people get to sleep. Herbal tea like Chamomile or Jasmine can also benefit some people, and if it’s part of a routine all the better. A study from the University of Melbourne found that while Alcoholic drinks may induce drowsiness, they also disrupt sleeping patterns, so best to avoid them as part of a regular wind down; see this article for their basic findings on alcohol and sleep.
The University of Adelaide suggest that the bottom line for most people is to relax and don’t panic. If sleeping doesn’t come easily, try not to focus on it. Get out of bed and move to another room for a while and maybe read a book (but don’t turn on the TV) until drowsiness comes in naturally, then go to bed and try again. Then keep to a routine the next night, and the next, until the body remembers it wants to sleep as well.