Create the perfect environment
First things first: Just as you can’t study on a messy desk, in order for your bedtime routine to be a success, you need to first cover the basics and create a beautiful environment for your body to rest in. Having the appropriate lighting, as well as high quality bed-linen, pillows and a great mattress, are all vital to achieving that deep relaxation you’re looking for.
Proper sheets and bedding
Making the bed with the correct sheets and having the right quilt and pillows can make a significant difference when it comes to sleeping well. The thickness of your pillow will ultimately depend on your preference, however, if you’re a stomach sleeper, try to choose a rather flat pillow, so your spine and neck are aligned. Generally, the trick is to support your head with minimal raising of your neck, as neck pain can haunt you for the rest of your day.
If you’re likely to sleep on your side, consider buying a full-body pillow, so your legs don’t touch one another, aligning your spine. You’ll see how much easier it is to fall asleep then! You can also get roller pillows to support the back of your neck if you’re an avid reader.
When it comes to sheets, silky and 100% Egyptian cotton are the smoothest and comfiest! They do require a bit more maintenance though, as they need better care when washing. High-quality duvets are also a must, especially the 100% cotton satteen-made ones, as the feeling of softness they provide cannot be compared. Textures play an important role when feeling relaxed and rested.
The mattress is also an important factor when having a good night’s sleep. Usually, the firmer the mattress the better, however that will depend on what feels best for your back. Investing is a good mattress is worth it though, and you only realise this after you have finally decided to try a couple of different ones. Plus, if used properly and rotated, they can last a very long time.
Natural light control
Light control is really important for proper sleeping, as your brain is conditioned to link a lack of light with its sleeping-mode. The brighter the light, the more your brain will wake up. So make sure you get lots of sunlight and natural light in the mornings, but close the curtains at night. Good-quality curtains and blinds are a must, and see-through ones are out of the question (unless you also have some sort of black-out installed on the windows as well).
We’ve all been there… nights that are too hot or too freezing to even think of falling asleep. Temperature control is quite relevant to achieve that deep slumber you seek. The optimal room temperature should be between 18° to 23° degrees. Always aim for the temperature to be colder rather than hotter, as this induces the body to generate melatonin, the hormone that produces sleep.
Go to bed at the same time every night
Routines are important, just ask your body clock! Going to bed at the same time every night can train your brain to ‘feel sleepy’ at a certain time, making it easier and faster for you to fall asleep when you’re in bed.
Step-by-step bed routine
Now that the logistics of sleep are out in the open, the path has been laid out for you to start implementing this simple but effective sleeping routine that covers food choices, activities and hygiene patterns.
5 hours before bed
- Say bye-bye to all stimulating, highly-caffeinated drinks. The optimal time to have cola, coffee, tea is definitely not the afternoon. While coffee or tea are great drinks to have in the morning to give you an energy boost, they can stay in your system for up to eight hours, which is not good if you’re trying to relax and induce sleep on your body.
4 hours before bed
- This is your last chance of the day to work out. Even though working out is fantastic for your overall health, energy levels and sleep patterns, cardio exercises also raise your body temperature for up to four hours, which doesn’t exactly induce sleep. Plus, even though right after you finish working out you may feel tired, after an hour you’ll start feeling energetic and pumped up, which can also inhibit sleep.
- If you’re a smoker, try to avoid cigarettes for four hours before bed. As nicotine is a stimulant, it’s likely you’ll find it hard to fall asleep if you smoke right before bed. In addition, respiratory problems can get worse, stopping you from breathing properly while trying to sleep. Having a cut-out time to stop smoking can also be the first step towards quitting for good.
3 hours before bed
- Check with your doctor what type of medications you’re on and if they might affect your sleep. If that’s the case, discuss with him or her whether you could take the medication no later than three hours before bed, to improve your sleep.
- Have a light dinner. As your body uses lots of energy to process the food you eat, it’s never a good idea to go to bed with a full tummy. It actually makes your body feel even more awake. When having dinner, try to reduce alcohol intake as well.
2 hours before bed
- Start switching off. Get a pen and paper and write down what’s on your mind and the things you have to do on the next day, your action plan, any e-mails, etc; to slowly disconnect. Clearing your head can be hard when you’re in bed and a ton of different thoughts come to mind, but writing it all down can help with letting go so you can focus on resting.
- Plan your clothes for the next day, get your lunch and snacks ready, and pack your bag. You’ll go to bed feeling ready and it’ll definitely give you a head start in the morning!
- Time to slow down on the liquids. Drinking too much close to bedtime can keep you awake at night with all the toilet runs you’ll have to do. Just remember, if you end up waking up to go to the toilet, try doing so with the lights off or with a very dim light, so you don’t wake your brain up.
An hour before bed
- Have a nice, relaxing and cleansing shower. Get rid of all the baggage of the day, the running around and the stress, and just start to unwind and let go. Try to leave hair-washing for the morning, as going to bed with damp hair can be a bit uncomfortable, leading to you staying awake for longer. When drying, try choosing a luxurious 100% cotton towel, as they are both ultra soft on your skin, but more absorbent too.
- Take the time to exfoliate and moisturise your face and body and other grooming activities after your shower. Finally, brush your teeth.
- Spray a sleep-inducing scent, such as lavender or chamomile fragrance. Nothing better than a soothing and calming smell to get you in the mood for resting. You can either spray the room or simply add a little touch to your pillow.
- If you have a sound machine, now is the time to turn it on. The subtle melodies will neutralise outside noises that may disturb your sleep. Otherwise, try listening to an audio bedtime story.
- Unplug. No more screens or blue light that keeps you awake. Do an activity that’s quiet, soothing and relaxing; dedicate this time to yourself. It could be meditation, reading a book or listening to environmental music with dim lights on. While in bed, practise deep breathing, inhaling and exhaling. This will increase the production of endorphins, inducing sleep.
All the steps for an amazing night’s sleep
Sleeping well and resting your body are extremely important for healthy functioning. Most people don’t realise how important and beneficial it is to keep a constant routine, setting the right environment and having the proper bedding, pillows and sheets when it comes to improving the quality of sleep. In reality, these small changes and tips can go a long way when it comes to bedtime. Whether you find it easy to fall asleep but don't feel quite rested, think getting to bed is quite a challenge, or just toss and turn non-stop, we hope this guide can help with paving the basics, so you can start working towards maximising your sleep and giving your body the rest it deserves.