Every year, millions of Australians struggle with chronic sleep conditions. Some take prescription medications to help them beat severe insomnia. Others drink herbal tea, take long baths before bed, or try to tire their bodies out with exercise. This kind of problem affects more and more people all the time, because we’re constantly thinking up new ways to occupy our brains, while minimising physical effort.
The smartphone is the main culprit for this, but iPads, tablets, televisions, and handheld games consoles can all make it tough to settle into a consistent sleep cycle. When they’re used in the evening, particularly close to bedtime, the message to the brain is that it needs to stay alert. Instead of winding down and relaxing for rest, our minds are still stuck in a world of status updates, notifications, and, instant content.
This guide which outlines the importance of a regular sleep cycle will give you some tips on what kind of wind down rituals are best for relaxing before bed.
- Exercise in the Daytime
One of the most overlooked reasons for poor sleep is a lack of physical exertion. Sometimes, even if your brain is tired and ready for rest, your body won’t follow suit because it hasn’t done anything that makes it feel like it needs one. This is a common problem for people who work in offices and it can be eased with a small amount (30 minutes) of daily exercise.
- Eat Well Before Bedtime
We all know that diet has a big impact on everything that our bodies do. However, the time at which you eat is also pretty influential. If you eat just before bed, your body can’t possibly rest because it’s too busy digesting the meal. This disrupts sleep, reduces its quality, and often leads to periods of wakefulness during the night.
- Take an Evening Walk
In the summertime, lots of people like to head out for an evening stroll an hour or two before bed. It helps to digest the evening meal and it subconsciously prepares the mind for sleep, because the sun is setting and you can see everything around you winding down. What you do need to avoid is getting your heart rate going too fast unless you’re planning to leave a little bit of time between the walk and actually getting into bed.
- Listen to Chilled Out Music
For some people, the key to drifting off is relaxed, soothing music. The best tunes are those without words, so that your brain doesn’t become too focused on the lyrics. They should be gentle, rhythmic, and played at a quiet volume. This is a good tip if you struggle to get to sleep because you live in a noisy area.
- Make a Ritual of Your Tea
While regular caffeinated teas are strongly discouraged just before bed, herbal teas are great for lulling the brain off to sleep. Chamomile and valerian root are particularly effective as they contain herbs and compounds that gently relax and soothe. If you have the patience, experiment with a tea ritual of sorts. Follow the same steps every time, without deviating, and eventually, you’ll start to subconsciously associate them with becoming more tired.
- Meditate or Just Sit Quietly
Not everybody is a big fan of things like yoga or meditation, but you don’t have to be to make visualisation techniques work for you. All you have to do is give yourself 15-20 minutes right before bed and sit peacefully in a quiet spot, without distractions. The aim is to completely clear your mind of thoughts. Eliminate the ones that do pop into your head by picturing them floating away on the end of a balloon or the back of a bird.
Why Your Mattress Could Be Damaging Your Sleep
If you’ve tried more than a few of these sleep rituals and you’re still having trouble, take a closer look at your mattress. If you’re in the market for a new one, you should be looking for a memory foam mattress to give you an optimal night’s sleep. A huge amount of people suffer with restless nights and spinal pains because they’re sleeping on a threadbare or completely unsuitable surface. While mattresses are designed to last a long time, they need to be replaced every 6-8 years if you want to continue to enjoy quality sleep.