Not many of us are blessed with a natural off button and when it comes to winding down in the evening we could all do with a few tips here and there. Life is busy and there is always something left on our endless to do lists. Combine that with any work related stress or arguments you may have had with your kids and all of a sudden sleep seems a long way off.
However, there are some very simple practices that you can introduce into your pre-bedtime routine, which will help both your body and mind slowly start to unwind for the evening.
Here are a few to get you started:
Have a Bath
Have a Hot Drink
As you start to fall asleep your body temperature drops and so the theory is that if you have a hot drink before bedtime it will increase your temperature and will then be followed by a drop. This drop in temperature should make you feel sleepy. Herbal teas are perfect for helping you unwind of an evening as they are caffeine free and chamomile tea is especially good as it has soothing qualities. Personally I’m a fan of a warming mug of hot chocolate before bed, although as I’ve got older I’ve learnt to not have too big a mug of it or I risk needing to get up in the middle of the night for a wee! To avoid this try and have your hot drink at least 2 hours before going to bed.
Doing a few simple stretches before bed will help ease tense muscles and will help loosen up your body, which will make you feel instantly relaxed. Try doing some simple restorative yoga poses, such as child’s pose or savasana and combine them with some deep breathing for the ultimate wind down. Take your time and with each breath visualise the stress leaving your body. This works not only at bedtime, but also when you first get up in the morning as it helps create a growth mindset and starts the day in a positive way.
Switch Off Screens
Screens are a big no no at bedtime, but there’s no harm in watching a bit of telly before you head upstairs. It’s incredibly relaxing to put your feet up, snuggle up under a blanket and watch your favourite show after a hard day. Vary what you watch depending on your mood. Had a particularly taxing day? Watch some reality TV – no brain cells needed and guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself. In need of something homey and nurturing? Watch a baking show or something to do with gardening. Need some excitement? Watch a thriller or a crime show to get your pulse racing and help you escape reality. Whatever you watch, be sure to switch off the TV at least half an hour before bedtime to give your mind a chance to switch off properly.
And as for phones, tablets, laptops etc. it’s all about establishing good habits in the evening so that it doesn’t get out of control. I know people who ‘put their phones to bed’, as in they have a special box that come a certain time they place their phone inside the box and don’t get it out again until the morning. I mean you could just turn the phone off and have it next to your bed, but the temptation is still there and so it is better to have it out of sight, out of mind. The blue light that is emitted from many of these devices has been proven to suppress levels of melatonin in our bodies and this makes it harder for us to fall asleep.
Read a Book
I don’t know about you lot, but if there’s one thing guaranteed to make me feel sleepy it’s reading a book. It could be the most gripping book on the planet and yet still my eyelids start drooping after one or two pages. Reading offers the chance for us to escape our own lives and transport us into a world of fantasy and make believe. It is pure escapism at its very best and this makes us relax and settle down.
Smell plays a powerful part in helping us to unwind of an evening. Whether you use essential oils in the bath, light a scented candle, or lightly mist your pillow before settling down, surrounding yourself with calming, soothing scents will help you to relax and unwind. The best scents for relaxation are: lavender, chamomile, bergamot, jasmine, rose and sandalwood. Have a play around and work out which one you prefer the smell of and which one helps you to unwind the most.
Winding down needn’t be a massive task, it needs to be approached gently and methodically. You cannot take a one size fits all approach with this, as everyone has their own preferred ways to relax. Hopefully the tips above will help you discover your own ways to wind down in the evening.