Sleep is so important for you. Obviously. It's well documented that sleeping is vital for our health in so many ways. And yet we still don’t dedicate enough time to ensuring that we're sleeping well.
The world is busy, fun, stressful, surprising, boundless and a whole load of other adjectives; the best way to enjoy the lovely moments and navigate the tougher ones? Get a good night's sleep.
To call in the geniuses, Harvard Med School did some research into the importance of a sound bedtime routine. From their study, they concluded that relaxing via a sleepy ritual helped to improve cognitive function, short and long-term recall, physical restoration and general performance.
So - here are a few tips about how to get to sleep:
Food and Drink: Hydrating with a glass of water or decompressing with a decaffeinated herbal tea an hour before bed can be so beneficial for your sleep. On the other hand (sadly), eating a huge meal or snacking into the late evening right won't do you much good. Your best bet is to avoid food and alcohol for at least a few hours before you're under the duvet.
Light: Try to dim the lights before you get into bed. Turn off the big light as soon as you can and switch on a warmly lit bedside lamp. Also, try not to look at your phone screen, especially if you've spent the evening binging on TV episodes - if you just can't resist having a scroll, most displays now have a Night Shift mode that makes a really positive difference to how well you sleep. Even better, Airplane Mode might keep that group chat from keeping you awake. By reducing the light in the room, you'll help your senses power down.
Thinking: Relax into a five or ten minute meditation before falling asleep. It sounds silly, we know, but calming the mind can lead to a much deeper sleep. Making your peace with the turbulence of the day before the lights go off will really help you protect your sleep and hopefully keep your dreams sweet.
Writing: If you are going to bed worried about something (or 100 things) then try to write them down on a piece of paper. Sometimes it helps just to, literally, get them out of your head and down onto a piece of paper, away from you. Who knows - by the time you've done this for a month, you might have the beginnings of your first novel...
Counting: If meditation sounds a bit millennial for you, try summoning your inner parent and advise yourself to slowly count sheep, breathing gently between the numbers. Before you know it, your mind will be focused on something beautifully inconsequential.
Positivity: While thinking, writing or counting, see if you can think, write or count about the things in your life for which you're most grateful. What puts a smile on your face? Who helps your eyes close? The right mindset can save you from a rough sleep.
Temperature: Keep your room cool. As the temperature rises, you risk sweat and then dry skin; overly moist (yucky word) conditions can then provide a hive for harmful bacteria. Your immune system will thank you for sleeping at a low temperature. So keep it cool. Moreover, to achieve that all-important REM sleep, your body needs to lose heat; the colder your room, the faster you'll emit a bit of warmth and the faster you'll drift off. Some good pyjamas should also help with that...
Books: Try to read before bed, even just for a few minutes. It's known that just 7 minutes of reading a day can really help to lower stress levels. Everyone feels cosy curled up with the right book.
Timing: Sleep when you're ready. There's no need to force yourself asleep. It's best to keep your bed as a sanctuary, a place of rest, rather than a place of activity. I'd suggest that you avoid eating, studying, socialising or working too hard in bed. Those pursuits might go better for you if you do them at a table.
Pattern: To feel energised in the mornings, try to maintain a sleep cycle. By that, I mean, put together a routine from the above when it comes to getting into bed. Of course, you won't be able to keep to it every night but having a routine will definitely improve your ability to recover from any disruption to your sleep (like a fire alarm or a Friday night...).
Hopefully you've found something for you there. My last piece of preaching would be this; how you get out of bed is just as important as getting in.
Wake gently and don't leap out of bed. It's bad for you!
First snuggle down, then rise into your day.