Have you ever started a new novel right before bedtime that was so unbelievably engaging that the twists and cliff-hangers kept you wired and awake long after the lights went out? Everyone knows it's a good habit to read before bed, right? Or was I wrong? Well, kind of. It turns out I hadn't considered the one caveat to any pre-bedtime rule - to do something mindless, unstimulating and stress-free. Stress is, after all, stress, and the culprit responsible for 33% of adults struggling to fall asleep, whether it stems from worrying about work or fretting over some fictional heroine's fate.
Clearly, how we go about our pre-bedtime routine is a hugely important factor in determining how easily we will nod off - so I've made a list of a few things we can all try to avoid doing to boost our pre-bedtime routine and reduce stress.
You’re eating a bunch of crap (and probably too late in the day)
Diets high in saturated fats and carbs (I'm looking at you, greasy takeaways), have been linked to lower sleep quality. Plus, our tolerance for glucose decreases later in the day, so eating late at night can throw off our circadian rhythm - our biological sleep-and-wake pattern.
Sleep isn’t in your busy schedule.
When your to-do list is a foot long and Instagram doesn’t watch itself, the days might feel a bit overbooked, so fitting in time for a good shut-eye may seem tricky. However, once you set yourself a strict(ish) schedule of going to bed & waking up at the same time every day, you will see a difference in your sleep pattern. While you're at it, block time out to switch off electronics before bed too. I suggest setting a recurring calendar reminder for this one.
You’re planning your next work day at home, in bed.
I’m a big believer in separating work and life. Even when I work from home, I tend to stay in my work-zone area, which helps me to a. not fall asleep mid-sentence while typing out emails in bed and b. steer clear of work distractions when it's downtime. Your work-space probably also comes with a whole lot of work-related anxiety, which is not something you want to bring into the bedroom, especially when you are trying to wind down at the end of the day. So, keep your bedroom your stress-free sanctuary.
You’re ignoring your tension.
We have instincts for a reason - to instinctively seek out the things that will help us survive and avoid danger. So, when we disregard our basic needs, things start to go haywire. i.e. when we ignore our instinct to sleep by reading "just one more" chapter, or watching "just one more" episode, it can lead to even more tension over the fact that we’re losing sleep. If you do have something stressful on your mind before bed, try writing it all down to work through it before hitting the hay.
You’re looking at screens.
I’m sure you’ve heard this one PLENTY of times before, but probably still take your phone to bed? Just in case you need a reminder, blue light emitted from screens sends a signal to your brain that daylight is present, which in turn messes with your circadian rhythm, ergo, your body doesn't think it's time for sleep.
If we consider the effects that loss of sleep have on our day to day lives, from a loss of productivity to battles with losing weight, is it not time to change up your pre-bedtime routine for the better?
Let yourself dream - it'll be worth it.
Written by Nina Clark – Founder.