Our 24/7 lifestyle today can be stressful, with us all seemingly short of time. It is certainly a long way from how our ancient ancestors spent their days, and especially their quieter evenings as daylight disappeared slowly.
Top ten tips
Here are ten practical tips on what to do in the evening to help you to get to sleep more easily.
1) Keep a regular sleep routine.
Your brain likes habits and getting to sleep is easier when you follow a routine. It’s a bit like when you teach a baby or a child to get to sleep. A hot bath or reading a book before bed can set you up to get to sleep easily.
2) Get back to night being darker than the day.
Our circadian rhythms are based on going to sleep in the dark and waking up in the light. Keeping lights and technology (which emit blue light that wakes you up) dimmed in the evening signals to your body that it’s getting close to bed time and helps to stimulate the production of Melatonin your sleep hormone.
3) Cut out all caffeine.
Caffeine is well known as a simulant which can keep us awake at night . If you want to make sure you can get to sleep easily and quickly its best to cut caffeine out all together . If not limit it to one mid-morning cup, and don’t drink any caffeine after lunchtime as it takes 6 hours for caffeine to lose just 1/2 of its effect .
4) Get your diet right, both in terms of when you eat and what you eat.
We would have naturally eaten in the day and fasted in the dark, with breakfast breaking the fast. Try to eat 4 hours before bed and make your evening meal the lightest of the day. Eat a Mediterranean diet and especially foods containing tryptophan magnesium and vitamin D, as these help your sleep. Avoid foods that keep you awake, such as spicy foods, and limit alcohol at night, which can also affects your quality of sleep.
5) Make your room like a cave: cool, dark and quiet.
Eliminate light with black out blinds and use white noise if needed to block out street noise or your partners snoring.
6) Get your bed right.
A comfy mattress and a pillow, which keeps your spine in alignment, and crisp sheets, which are regularly changed, are all part of a good sleeping habit.
Avoid work at night for at least the last hour before bed as it keeps your brain active, and never take work into the bedroom, as it gives your brain the wrong message. Keep your bedroom for sleep and sex only. If you have trouble quietening your mind at night try meditation or mindfullness
8) Get your bedtime right and sleep in cycles.
We naturally have a sleep window between 8pm and 12pm with an optimum time of 10-11pm. We also have a set biological sleep cycle of 90 minutes, which we go through every night. You wake up more refreshed if you are at the end of a cycle. So, if you want to get up at 6.30am, count back 5 cycles or 7.5 hours and this gives you a suggested bedtime of 11pm, going to bed in the dark and waking up in the light.
9) Put technology to bed an hour before you do.
Arguably apart from the electric light bulb, technology has had the biggest influence in disrupting natural sleep. Not only does it emit blue light, which wakes you up, but it also has been proven to stimulate your brain, making it even harder to fall asleep easily.
10) Don’t forget to get start your morning right.
A morning routine is an essential component of helping you to get to sleep easily . Get up at the same time 7 days a week, and let morning light into your bedroom in the morning straight away. Getting early morning sunlight signals to your body that it’s time to wake up and strengthen your circadian rhythm, making it easier to get to sleep at night. Also, always eat breakfast as it is part of our natural wake up routine and aids good sleep.