Yawn! I’m feeling quite tired as I write this, as I was up late on my computer and only tumbled into bed when I was just about ready to drop. Bad Joan! Although it’s alright to stay up late every now and then, establishing a healthy and relaxing bedtime routine is definitely a valuable use of your time. When I’m not staying up late like a rebellious schoolgirl I have quite a good sleeping pattern, so here are ten of my tried and tested ideas on how to wind down after a long day, learn how to relax, and get yourself ready for a good night’s sleep. (I’ll be doing some of these tonight, too!)
Put on pyjamas
The first thing to do when you get in from work, or whenever you decide it’s time to wind down for the evening, is to climb into your favourite pair of PJ’s! If you’re not a pyjama-wearer, then any kind of loungewear will do. Choose sumptuous cashmere or a terry cloth robe, fleece-lined slippers or a cotton onesie – whatever you find both comfortable and comforting! Though it’s not essential, it helps if what you choose to wear is freshly washed, sweetly scented, and even better, if you can leave it on a warm radiator for a few minutes before you put it on! Mmm, cosy…
Dim the lights
Switch off your ceiling light and fill your room with a warm glow – lamps and fairy lights are good for this. If you share your living space with people who will be turning corridor lights on and off, get yourself a draught excluder which will prevent any light getting in, and, yes, will also keep you warm! Dimming the light in your surroundings is a way of “telling” your body that it will soon be time to sleep. Try to avoid overriding your body’s natural sleep cycle by switching off any electronic devices in your room, including the television and your computer (once you’ve finished reading this!).
Get the right temperature
You won’t have a good night’s sleep if you’re too hot or too cold. Make sure the temperature of your room is just right by leaving a window open in the summer, and cuddling up with lots of blankets and a hot water bottle during the winter. I have a Moomin hot water bottle that my sister bought me for my birthday, and I love it. It’s smaller than the usual size, but just big enough to keep my feet warm! I find it better to pile blankets on the bed rather than turn up the heating, as covers can be kicked off in a half-awake state, but turning the heating down involves getting out of bed!
Read a book
Is there anything better than snuggling into bed and reading a really good book? I don’t think so! Set aside half an hour, or as much time as you can allow, to read a few chapters of a book. Read it by lamplight, or a little clip-on book light, but make sure that the lighting is adequate enough that you don’t strain your eyes. Reading is so much better for you than watching television or tinkering about on the internet, especially before bedtime! And it probably goes without saying that a paper-and-ink book is probably a better choice than a Kindle or an iPad…
Make a hot drink
A hot drink before bedtime can be very soothing and comforting. You can go for the traditional cup of warm milk, or add some cocoa powder and make yourself a hot chocolate. Drinks like Horlicks have been specially created to aid sleep, and they come in a whole bunch of different flavours, so you could give one of those a try. I love peppermint tea, which is good for digestion, so I typically drink it after my last meal of the day and before I go to bed. I also love Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime tea, which contains spearmint as well as chamomile, a light (and purely natural!) sedative.
Sniff some lavender
I’m no expert on essential oils, but Lush used to make “temple balms,” which were scented balms – some energising, some relaxing – that you applied to your pulse points, and I found them to be very effective. Sadly, Lush stopped making them quite a while ago, but it’s still very easy to track down essential oils, or products that contain them. Lavender is the signature scent for calm, relaxation and peaceful sleep, so shake a few drops onto your pillow or into your bath. Visit Tisserand for more information and find out what essential oils can do for you.
Listen to music
I should probably point out that the music you listen to at bedtime should be soothing! If I want to wind down, I always reach for Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works. It’s my go-to “calm me down” album! Ambient music is unobtrusive, there are no lyrics, the tracks run together seamlessly and after a few minutes you will forget that you put it on – but it will quiet your thoughts and help you to feel calm and relaxed. It always works for me, and I’ve probably listened to this same album hundreds of times! Do a little research into ambient music and see what you can find.
Write in your journal
Just before bedtime is the perfect chance to process anything that happened to you during the day – or simply whatever happens to be on your mind. If you’re not a seasoned journal writer and don’t know where to begin, you can just start by writing, “I don’t know what to write…” You may find from then on you recall a conversation you had that afternoon, or a thought that popped into your head while walking the dog, or something you spotted in a shop window that would make an ideal present for someone. Grab a pretty notebook and your favourite pen, and start writing!
Cover your eyes
If your bedroom isn’t as dark as you would like, pop on an eye mask to block out any pesky light that threatens to disturb your slumber. I’m one of those people who simply can’t get to sleep if there’s even the tiniest speck of light, so I tend to take an eye mask with me wherever I go, and always keep one by my bedside. I’ve assembled quite a collection over the years and at the moment I’ve got my eye on this one from Samantha Stas! It doesn’t have to be ridiculously glamourous, though, if that’s not your thing – you can find plain, simple styles at most shops.
Think happy thoughts
Lying wide awake at night and running through a list of everything that troubles us is unfortunately a very common problem. With no television, computer, music or other input from the outside world, the nighttime can be a scary place – just ourselves, alone with our thoughts! Do yourself a favour and think about happy things as you drift off to sleep. Think about past memories, future plans, people you love, foods you like to eat – anything that will leave you smiling sweetly as you fall asleep tonight. Try it, and you might just find that you wake up feeling a lot happier too!
How do you relax and get a good night’s sleep?