We all want to get a good night sleep! In theory, we all know it is good for us, and often it is easier said than done. The good news: Revamping your bedtime routine can be easy and also enjoyable. Here are a few tips that sleep experts recommend that will help you to get the previous shut-eye hours you crave and I have applied those during my extensive business travels which not only sound good in theory but work in practice. They helped me over the years to go to bed being more relaxed and be waking up happier and well rested.
Create a Zen-Zone
1. Create a comfortable sleep environment:
Keep the bedroom dark, cool and as quiet as possible and switch off all electronics before going to bed. According to Harvard Medical School, research states that any stimulating objects incl. electronics, lights and noise effect levels of melatonin, our sleeping hormone which is great for daytime when the body needs to be alerted, but needed during nighttime. (Gooley et al 2010).
2. Avoid stressful, conflicts, or anxiety-inducing situations before bedtime:
During business travels, this is the hardest to avoid as business trips usually involve dinner meetings with constant conversation about work. As study suggests, just as electronics, noise and light increase our level of alertness; stressful situations create tension in our bodies, our heart starts to race, blood is pumping into our legs and arms, away from our digestive tract and cortisol levels, our stress hormone, increase to get us prepared for a ‘fight or flight’ situation. Even though there is no tiger attacking us, in our DNA, we still experience what would have been valuable 1000s of years ago. Protect yourself and practice self-love by preventing yourself to deal with stressful topics long before bedtime.
3. Set a sleep routine: Human beings like routine. Not many feel comfortable being in ambiguity and in an uncertain environment, ultimately triggering stress (Beyond Philosophy, 2013). When it comes to sleeping, nothing is more important than having a regular schedule. And to keep this schedule not only during the week but also during the weekends. Ideally, you go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
4. Regular Exercise routine:
As much as you we need the down-time, we need to know when to accelerate our heart-beat. And there is nothing better then a good exercise regime. Walsh (2009) outlines in his research that exercise increases total sleep time, in particular the slow-wave to support the body to repair and maintain itself. Do avoid exercise right before your down-time. You want to avoid your body to be flushed with energy but increase the melatonin level in your body.
Prep your body & Mind
1. Caffeine intake:
This is one that varies from person to person. Some sleep like babies when having an espresso right before bed. Some cannot have a sip of it from mid-day onwards as it disturbs their hormonal balance. Listen to your body and find out what works for you. Remember not only coffee has caffeine.
2. Late night meals
Skip heavy meals and sugary snacks before bed, and limit alcohol. Even if a cocktail seems to help you fall asleep, it can interfere with sleep quality and disrupt sleep later in the night. Reach for a healthier snack like whole grain crackers, banana, walnuts or almonds which contain sleep-inducing tryptophan.
3. Your Space is sacred:
Setting aside time to unwind and quieten your mind will help you get into a calm state of mind. Meditating, breathing exercises, taking a bath, smell something nice and listening to relaxing music are great ways to calm down at night. Or create a beauty-regime, not only exercising some self-care, also doing some other good for your body, mind and soul. Evidence suggests certain aromas may actually reduce blood pressure and heart rate, creating a calming effect in the body. Mist this sedating scent around your room, over your pillow and even on your body for a soothing bedtime ritual:
· ½ ounce of Rose Hydrosol
· ½ ounce distilled water
· 4 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil
· 4 drops Patchouli essential oil
· 8 drops Sandalwood essential oil
Combine the ingredients into a 1 oz misting bottle. Shake gently before misting.
4. Have a tea.
Decaffeinated herbal teas like chamomile, a turmeric latte or passion fruit have a calming and sedative effect on the body. Even peppermint, triggering the digestive tract to kick in and soothing the body. And there is simply something comforting about having a hot beverage before bed. Just creating the habit of pouring a cup may help signal your body that it’s time for sleep, helping you relax and unwind.
Stick to this as a night time plan each night and we promise you’ll be counting fewer sheep and feeling fresh come morning.