If you’re like almost half of Australians, the stress of your daily life, an overexposure to technology and a less-than-ideal diet can see you struggle to fall asleep at night. Sleep isn’t a lost cause however, with these five simple, pre-bedtime rituals which can see you snuggled up in bed, dreaming peacefully in no time.
In order to sleep like a baby, it’s a good idea to take a leaf out of a baby’s book and create a routine for yourself. When you have specific rituals you follow daily, you’ll slowly adjust your circadian rhythms so that your body expects to fall asleep, and wake up, at certain times. Try setting your alarm (and actually getting up, without snoozing) at the same time every day. Instinctively, our bodies want to wake up with the sun, so aim to make this not too late in the day, between five and eight in the morning is ideal.
One of the biggest hindrances to sleep is the stress and anxiety brought on by modern life. While this is a whole other issue to sort through, the resulting insomniac effects of stress can be mitigated to help you fall asleep easier. Before bedtime, write yourself a list of things you need to do tomorrow, taking the stress out of ensuring you remember them all in the morning. Once these stressors are down on paper, try either meditation, rhythmic breathing or even ASMR videos (autonomous sensory meridian response videos contain placid sights and sounds, which can have a sedative effect) to relax both your body and mind.
Try to avoid watching television, using technology or engaging in any other activities that aren’t sleeping or resting, in your bedroom. This way you’ll learn to associate your sleep space with sleeping and even the sight of your bed can begin to induce sleepiness. The exception to this rule is sex, which aside from making you physically tired, can release hormones such as prolactin, which help you sleep soundly.
Turn off all technology, switch from TV to a book and dim the lights throughout your house (if you can). Higher light levels trick your body into thinking it’s still daytime and stall the production of melatonin, keeping you alert for longer. Ideally, you’ll do this an hour before bedtime to give your brain time to react and start to shut down. Powering down devices too, can have the extra bonus of taking your mind away from the stress that social media and email can induce.
A warm bath or shower, followed by stretching to loosen your muscles so your body is relaxed, can do wonders for your sleep. An important consideration when doing this however, is ensuring your core body temperature isn’t too high before you attempt to drift off. Just like the other rhythms our bodies experience during the day, we also cycle through different body temperatures, correlating roughly with wakefulness and sleep, with our temperature the highest at our most alert. In order to induce a deeper, more refreshing sleep, it can be helpful to ensure your bedroom is nice and cool and make sure you aren’t too warm from exercise or a hot shower immediately before bed.