When you want more than forty winks.
Getting a good night’s sleep was never my forte (hands up from the over-thinker here), so I became obsessed with achieving the best nighttime routine to fall asleep. And stay asleep.
Sleep affects how we feel physically and mentally; I’m sure we’ve all had those sleepless nights which turn into caffeine-and-yawn-fuelled days; you know the ones when you have a temper shorter than a toddler?
To prevent this, getting a good kip is important, so from someone who’s transformed her bedtime routine and therefore, her sleep, here’s everything I know:
- It’s all about the evening routine
We can’t go from hero to zero in 30 seconds flat; we have to prepare ourselves for sleep and wind down slowly. This involves relaxing a couple of hours before bed. Yep, that means no more working late into the night. Close that laptop down, Jon.
- No screens
I know, I know…this is hard to do and believe me, I’ve come up with all the excuses why I ~need~ to have my phone on at night: someone might call, I need the alarm, I use it as a Kindle, but if you can find a way to remove screens from your bedroom and ideally, stop watching/typing/scrolling an hour or so before bed, you’ll be thankful for it later (or early morning, should we say?).
- Have a routine
Routines can improve our sleep massively so having a healthy bedtime routine is going to help you fall asleep faster each night because having a routine creates a sense of safety and control; as humans we’re creatures of habit.
In addition to this, once we’ve established a bedtime routine, we’ll begin to link it with feeling sleepy which, in turn, will make us feel sleepy when we begin our bedtime routine in the future.
I journal and read before I go to sleep – my brain now links these rituals with snoozing.
- Breathing and meditation
If you’re feeling relaxed and stress-free then you’re going to find it easier to fall asleep and there is nothing more relaxing than breathing and meditating – am I right?
Different patterns of breathing can help you reach different physical states; breathing in for 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds can induce relaxation and tiredness.
There are plenty of bedtime meditations you can listen to on YouTube, Spotify and iTunes or on apps like Headspace and Calm; they make me feel sleepy just thinking about them.
As I said before, journaling is a big part of my nighttime routine; journaling can improve your sleep by helping you process your thoughts and feelings from the day – then you can stop overthinking once the lights go out.
Apparently, light with a lot of red in it stimulates melatonin production – the chemical our brain produces for sleep – so your bedroom lighting should be as warm as possible; a lamp with an amber coloured bulb is perfect.
Burning candles can also help you to relax and feel sleepy; a candle with a lavender scent is ideal, not only is the glow from the burning wick warm and soothing, but lavender acts as an anxiety relief and a sedative.
Black out curtains and blinds are very effective for a good night’s sleep – sunlight or artificial light from outside your window, will effect your circadian rhythm and make you more alert and awake, even when you don’t want to be.
Read more: best candles for sleep
- Get out of bed
Similarly to linking your bedtime routines to sleeping, if you lie awake in bed for too long then you can start to associate being in bed with being awake. If you’re finding yourself tossing and turning, wondering why you said that dumb thing to your Uncle Charles, then the best thing to do is get out of bed. Take yourself to another dimly lit room and do some reading or meditating.
- Limit caffeine
Caffeine really is sleep’s worst enemy and it takes longer than you think to leave your body; even if you manage to get to sleep with caffeine in your system, you won’t be reaching the deep and restorative sleep your brain needs – try decaf or limiting it to first thing in the morning.
- Limit alcohol
Another one of sleep’s enemies is alcohol, despite it having sedative effects, it prevents you from reaching REM sleep and can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night too.
- Don’t eat too late
Eating late at night can delay our bodies ability to fall asleep since it’s working on digesting the meal we’ve just scoffed down. If you can, try moving your dinner time earlier or having your big meal in the middle of the day.
- Move your body
Moving your body during the day will help tire you out and produce better sleep; this can be anything from walking to running to exercise classes.
- Quit napping
I love napping, but as someone who struggles with sleep, I’ve had to give it up; napping during the day can mess with your sleep quality at night.
If you do want to a bit of shut eye then nap earlier in the day for no longer than 20-minutes.
How do I make a sleep routine at night?
To create a good sleep routine at night you’ve got to make a routine you’re going to look forward to and enjoy. There is no way you’re going to want to swap your nighttime scroll on TikTok for a bath if you hate water – you get me?
what is the 3 2 1 bedtime routine?
3 hours before bed – no food or alcohol
2 hours before bed – no more work
1 hour before bed – no more electronic devices and screens
Tips to improve sleep
- Have a consistent nighttime routine
- Avoid large meals late at night
- Avoid caffeine, especially after lunchtime
- Move your body during the day
- Avoid electronic devices
- Make sure your bedroom is comfortable and relaxing
- Turn on lamps or light candles rather than the big light
- Use essential oils to enhance sleep
- Read a good book
- Have a consistent bed time and wake up time
how much sleep do i need by age?
0-3 months: 14-17 hours a day
4-12 months: 12-16 hours a day
1-2 years: 11-14 hours a day
3-5 years: 10-13 hours a day
6-12 years: 9-12 hours a day
13-18 years: 8-10 hours a day
18-60 years: 7 hours a day
61-64 years: 7-9 hours a day
65+ years: 7-8 hours a day
is there a trick to falling asleep?
Apart from making sure you have a good nighttime routine to fall asleep, there are certain techniques you can use to fall asleep. Many would have heard of counting sheep, but another technique you can try is one where you imagine yourself on a walk you do regularly in great detail. This will prevent any intrusive thoughts keeping you awake and give you something boring to concentrate on; before you know it you’ll be fast asleep.
why can’t i fall asleep?
Not being able to fall asleep is often down to stress and anxiety, but there are many other factors that can contribute to it too. Some of these are listed below:
- stress and anxiety
- lifestyle (working shifts, alcohol, caffeine, not enough movement during the day)
- Physical health conditions
- Mental health conditions
- Your sleeping environment
shop some nighttime routine to fall asleep essentials:
HOUSE HOUSE HOUSE receives commission from some shopping links
Pure silk eye mask – Oliver Bonas £50
Clipper snore and peace tea bags – Amazon £5.64
NEOM perfect night’s sleep bath foam – M&S £25
Mathew Walker Why We Sleep Book – Amazon from £3.99
Sleep signature candle – The White Company £20
Pure silk eye mask – M&S £12.50
Design works wellness journal – Selfridges £26