The Importance of Sleep: How to Create Your Bedtime Routine
Have you ever noticed how much a bad night’s sleep affects how well you function the next day?
It’s very easy to get caught up on an evening if you’re socialising with friends, engrossed in a Netflix series or reading a great book, but too much of this will throw your body off balance and you’ll start to feel the impact. Some of us are night owls, some of us are larks, and some of us are a bit of both. If you’re a self-confessed night owl, you’ll be well acquainted with the severe tiredness that follows a late night.
The seasons also hugely impact our overall health, with winter being a time of hibernation and recuperation. We all know that animals hibernate throughout the darker months, so there’s no madness in this method whatsoever! We talked about improving our immune system through winter in our last post and touched on the importance of sleep, but now we’re going to delve a bit deeper and look at how to create a bedtime routine. If you want to improve your motivation, energy and health (especially as we approach winter!), then read on for some top tips.
Choose your bedtime
You don’t have to be strict with this every single night, because a bit like a diet too much restriction will cause you to fall off the wagon. What we’re suggesting, is that you give yourself a time that you’d like to be in bed most nights and try to stick to it as often as possible. Depending on what time you get up in the morning and how much sleep you need to function each day, work backwards to figure out your ideal bedtime. Then take off 30 minutes! Getting into bed 30 minutes before you intend to sleep leaves you a little time to relax or read a book before you drift off.
Avoid using technology an hour before bed
It’s a well-known fact that using technology before sleep encourages the brain to stay awake and hinders relaxation. Technology is one of the main contributors of a bad night’s sleep! Putting your laptop away and your phone down before bed, and switching off from social media, stops your brain from overthinking about all the information you’re absorbing. Sometimes peace and quiet is a beautiful thing, and you’ll be surprised how well you sleep after doing this – and how awake and energised you’ll feel the following morning.
Take guidance from the seasons
The seasons alter our sleeping patterns in ways we don’t necessarily realise. In winter, we see shorter days, less sun and spend more time indoors with the heating on, meaning our energy levels fluctuate and we lack serotonin (the good-mood hormone). In summer, we receive a lot more vitamin D from the sun – although that’s debatable in the UK - and the days are longer, yet allergies like hayfever can cause havoc on the immune system. The best thing you can do is be aware of how the seasons affect your mood, and adjust your sleeping pattern until you find what works for you.
Avoid caffeine or alcohol before bed
We’re not saying you should quit alcohol or caffeine here, but it’s undeniable that they affect our sleep when consumed too close to bedtime. Caffeine is more of a morning pick-me-up but some people do drink coffee or tea at night if they need an extra boost of energy, yet this only throws the body off balance and stops it from winding down. As for alcohol, it can help you fall asleep quickly but you’re more likely to to have night sweats and nightmares, and wake up frequently throughout. Its damaging effects on the brain mean you’ll wake up with a headache, struggle to stay focused, and have less motivation than usual. Choose your alcohol-fuelled evenings wisely, especially with the festive season fully upon us now!
Have a bath, and light some incense or inhale essential oils
If your days are busy and active, you deserve to pamper yourself regularly as a way of helping your body to regain energy. Too much yang in life will have you feeling run down and disconnected from the things that make you happy, so be sure to indulge in yin activities (soaking in the bath, reading a book, sleeping) to maintain a healthy balance. Taking a hot bath before bed is one of the best ways to fully relax your muscles and nervous system, and we guarantee you’ll sleep like a baby! Adding some drops of essential oil – like lavender or geranium – will reduce any anxiety or stress that you may be feeling. You could also light some incense, which not only smells divine but is calming on the body and will send you into a deeply relaxed state.
Leila Wright is a freelance writer and blogger, with a passion for creating a positive impact on mental health and the environment.