8 ways to wind down for bedtime

Sweet dreams are made of this

Gwyneth Paltrow called the “clean sleeping” trend at the start of the year, and now the latest research shows that indeed, the more sleep you get, the longer you live. So sleeping well is now officially A THING.

Having suffered with chronic fatigue  for the last couple of years and literally having to crawl out of bed every morning, sleep has been an important focus for me for a while now.

I’ve long thought it odd that we put such emphasis on our morning routines in order to get us up and out of bed, but we don’t reverse this out at night.

Why don’t we set alarms giving us a one hour warning that bedtime is nigh?

A bit like breathing, sleep is something we all automatically know how to do, but whether we’re doing it well is another thing entirely.

Stop drinking caffeine from 2pm

Coffee takes a while to wear off and can effect the quality of your sleep, even if you don’t feel wired, or whatever. Try and keep your coffee consumption to morning hours only (when you probably need it the most).

Have dinner 3 hours before going to bed.

Sounds obvious, but going to dinner before the digestion process is through is BAAAAD. Your digestive system function peaks at lunchtime, so most of your food should be eaten by then. This means that having a huge dinner isn’t ideal for your bod – and if you do, you need to allow your body to digest it before snoozin’.

Get into your PJs ASAP

It’s impossible to relax if you’re walking around your home in stiff denim kick flares and kitten heels, so switch into something more comfortable (plus bra off, hair in pineapple atop your head – the usual) once you get home. This will also act as a prompt for the start of winding your day down.

I love this celestial set by YAWN.

Switch off screens, dim the lights

An hour before you go to bed, stop sitting in front of your computer or TV screen and switch off all other electronic devices. They are too stimulating to the brain and inhibit the release of these sleep neurotransmitters.

  • They stimulate your brain.
  • The light some devices emit can interfere with your internal body clock.
  • They can be addictive, eating into even more sleep time.
  • Checking work emails at night can create worry and stress.

Write down worries and reminders for the next day

Prepare for the next day before you get sleepy. Gather and prepare everything you will need for the next day (clothes, wallet, briefcase, keys, cell phone, lunch, etc.). Sometimes thoughts can buzz around your head, joined by other worries and reminders from your mental to-do list. A simple and effective trick is to write down your worries and make a to-do list before going to bed. That way you know you won’t forget anything important and you can relax.

Invest in black-out blinds or curtains.

This doesn’t have to be expensive. My bedroom curtains are a cheap unlined pair from Wilko, which I (ahem, my mum) tacked a heavyweight black-out lining to, et voila! You basically want your bedroom as pitch black as possible to trigger your body into sleep mode.

Spritz a delicious pillow spray.

I’ve been using this lavender sleep mist from Holland & Barrett. Scent is such a powerful sense, you’ll soon start to associate your chosen aroma with snooze time. Also handy for taking away with you when staying overnight somewhere, if like me, you’re not a fan of being away from your own bed.

Aim to get a solid 6 to 9 hours sleep every night.

Work out your own optimum sleep time (mine’s 8 hours). Then do the maths and set your bed-time from that – and work out your one hour wind-down window accordingly.

It’s also beneficial to clock up, if possible, 2-3 of those hours before midnight, for maximum restoration.