Oh how we love sleep. We would even go so far as to say there is literally nothing better than a great night’s sleep—and the research backs us up.
When it comes to health, getting enough quality sleep is just as important as exercising and eating well, but it definitely doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Think about it—when you want to improve your health, you might sign up to a gym, toss out all the unhealthy snacks in your cupboard and lay off the booze, but when do you give that much attention to your nightly snooze?
Shea Morrison, co-founder of The Goodnight Co, is on a mission to get sleep recognised as one of the most important factors in our overall well being, and encourage tired people everywhere to put as much effort into sleeping well as they do keeping fit. And her favourite strategy for a solid night in dreamland? A good sleep ritual.
According to Shea, a sleep routine or ritual can help send certain signals to our brain and body to let it know that it’s time to switch off the lights. It’s not that different to any other routine you might have—like warming up before a workout or sticking to a regimented snack schedule.
So what does a sleep routine look like? Well it’s not a one size fits all—you need to find a ritual or combination of rituals that works for you. It doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out routine either—we all lead busy lives, after all. Even adding one ritual to your nightly routine can help, though Shea suggests a combination of three. As for the best rituals to get you heading off to dreamland, we’ve outlined her favourites below.
Take A Hot Bath Or Shower
It’s fairly well known that a cool bedroom environment is more conducive to sleep, but increasing your body temperature before bed can also help you fall asleep easier. A warm shower or bath will raise your core body temperature, making you feel sleepier and those cool sheets all the more snooze-inducing. According to Shea, it’s also a great signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep, washing away all the stresses of the day. Aim to shower or take a bath about an hour to an hour and half before bedtime for the best results, and make it hot, hot, hot.
Limit Light And Screen Time
We know, we’re always banging on about blue light, from phones, televisions and computers, but it really is terrible for your sleeping patterns. As well as using blue light blocking glasses during the day, limiting screen time before bed, and putting your phone down at least half an hour before you close your eyes, Shea suggests switching off the lights, or at least dimming them, an hour or two before bedtime, to signal your brain that pillow time is coming.
Drink A Herbal Tea
As well as having a similar effect to the hot shower, certain herbal teas, like chamomile, valerian root and lemon balm, can have calming effects, with some of them akin to mild sedatives. While you should definitely be steering clear of anything caffeinated before bed, a warm herbal tea might be just the thing to lull you into dreamland. You’ll find The Goodnight Co’s own blend here.
Dab On Some Essential Oils
If you want a scientific breakdown of how essential oils can aid your sleep patterns you can read The Goodnight Co’s explanation here, but really, all you need to know is that they help. There’s even different types of oils for different needs, whether that be helping with anxiety, reducing insomnia or decreasing blood pressure. The scent can also just act as a trigger—just like getting a whiff of Vicks sends you straight back to childhood, smelling lavender every night could get you feeling sleepy. You can either rub essential oils onto your pulse points, add a few drops to your bath or pillow, or use a diffuser, depending on your preference.
Finally, if you struggle to calm your mind at bedtime, adding in a meditation practice might help you get out of your head and into a restful mood. As Shea says, “It’s also a little bit of a distraction method—it helps take your mind off whatever the worries are and bring you back to the present moment.” She suggests heading to Fragrant Heart for short guided meditations, or just using the box breathing technique—take one deep breath in, hold, let your breath out, hold, repeat. You can also find our guide to meditation here.
Find more tips on getting a good night’s sleep here.
Image credit: Nicole Wolf