Taking your sleep quality and hygiene to the next level…
Did you know that a good night’s sleep is the third pillar of health, joining a balanced diet and exercising as one of the three things that pretty much guarantee a long and healthy life? That’s how important sleep is. Despite this, as many as 40% of us are sleep deprived…
If you’re one of the millions of Americans struggling to sleep, following a consistent bedtime routine to help you sleep - even when you can’t - is possibly one the smartest things you can do. It allows you let go of the day’s worries and totally relax and unwind.
Adding the calming effects of lavender to your sleep hygiene routine is even smarter. Known as the Queen of Sleep, there are many studies that prove this natural home remedy can make an enormous difference to the quality of your sleep.
Here’s a whole bunch of tips on things you can include in your pre-bedtime routine, how to create the perfect sleep environment and some simple bedtime rituals to help you sleep better…
PRE-BEDTIME ROUTINE: START BY RELAXING BEFORE YOU GO TO BED
Ever got into bed totally exhausted and sure that you’ll quickly nod off – only to find yourself still wide awake at midnight with your mind racing at a hundred miles an hour? That’s because we all need some quiet time before going to bed.
At the end of a hectic day we often find our evenings a mad flurry of organizing the kids, the dog and dinner when in reality we should all be slowing down. Being over-active before bedtime is actually a major cause of insomnia and other sleep problems. Taking just 30-60 minutes to quieten your mind and relax your body is arguably the most helpful sleep hygiene habits you could adopt.
Choose a few of these tips you would most enjoy to be part of your pre-bedtime relaxation routine…
Plan for tomorrow
To avoid all those to-do lists constantly buzzing around in your head, write them down instead. No more anxiety about tomorrows tasks, and a super-organized way to start your new day.
Spend some time with family, friends or pets
Turn off all electronic devices, and spend some time talking instead. If you have a pet, indulge in a little bit of quiet play or cuddle time. Not only good for sleep – but good for the soul too.
Listen to soothing music
Shown in a number of studies to reduce stress, listening to music not only helps you fall sleep but also improves sleep quality. Classical music is best but some soothing R&B or jazz can work just as well.
Ease away any tension or pain
If your neck and shoulders are all tied up in knots after a stressful day, warm up a soothing lavender neck pillow to quickly ease away any unwanted tension that can prevent you from falling asleep. A heated lavender spa wrap can help relieve any achy muscles left over from a workout.
Try some journaling
Keeping a daily journal is good for your mental health as it reduces stress and helps organize your ideas. Let go of all the thoughts and emotions you’ve been feeling all day.
Do a simple relaxation exercise
This can be anything from yoga to deep breathing or stretching - and even extend to some quiet time meditation or other spiritual exercise. Burn a calming lavender candle to help relax your body and clear your mind of all the daily baggage that weighs you down.
Keep evening meals light & healthy
A heavy meal eaten too close to bedtime will not only sit uncomfortably in your stomach, but can also disrupt sleep. Aim to have your dinner roughly 3-4 hours before you go to bed. Keep your meals light and avoid stimulants like alcohol, caffeine and sugary sodas. And try not to exercise too close to bedtime.
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SLEEP ENVIRONMENT: CREATING A SLEEP SANCTUARY IN YOUR BEDROOM
Sleeping well is the most crucial thing you can do for good health and longevity. That makes your bedroom the most important room in your home. A sacred sanctuary for sleep. Yet many people treat their bedrooms as their go-to place to watch TV or as chill-out havens to play games. And then wonder why they struggle to sleep…
By far the best tip to help you sleep better is to create a sleep environment that is entirely focused on comfort, with absolutely zero distractions – and is only used for sleep.
The main aim in creating a calming and comfortable sleep sanctuary is to ensure that nothing will jar with any of your senses and so disturb precious shut-eye time – or rudely wake you in the middle of the night…
Get the temperature right
You don’t want your bedroom temperature to be too hot or cold. As nighttime temperatures drop, melatonin levels in the body naturally adapt to the lower temperature and this is what makes you feel sleepy. Most research therefore supports sleeping in a cooler room that is around 65 degrees.
In winter months, this may happen at night anyhow. However, in the heat of summer, you may have to either lower the thermostat or have a cold shower to reduce your body’s temperature to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. A cooling fan can also help.
Lower the lights
Too much light can throw off your body’s circadian rhythm and disrupt your sleep. Aside from turning off or dimming bright lights, also consider black out curtains for your windows. Otherwise try a lavender sleep mask to knock back the light as well as fill your mind with calm. Creating a cozy and dark sleep space helps set your body into sleep mode.
Reduce disturbing noise
Having a quiet and peaceful bedroom is also critical to ensure good quality sleep. While you can resort to earplugs if the noise is unavoidable, it may be worth considering color noise to help you sleep.
White noise drowns out any disruptive background sounds, while other color noises interact with the brain to help slow thoughts, relax muscles and dissolve anxiety. Pink noise promotes deep sleep and brown noise is great for stress relief and relaxation. Download a color noise app or explore options on YouTube.
Invest in high quality bedding
If your mattress is older than 10 years, it may be time to invest in a new one. Time-worn dents, lumps and bumps just disrupt a good night’s sleep. Similarly, pillows, sheets, duvets and blankets that are of good quality will help you keep comfortable and snug during the night.
If you struggle to fall asleep, consider using a lavender weighted blanket which has been shown to reduce anxiety, calm a restless body and help with insomnia.
Disconnect all electronic devices
Whether it’s a TV, laptop or smartphone, they all stimulate your brain, which is that last thing you need when trying to fall asleep. Studies have shown that the blue light from these devices negatively affects your body clock, resulting in sleeplessness.
Technology can also be invasive - checking the news, mails and even social media can quickly reset your brain into alert mode and eat into precious sleep time. Aim to disconnect about an hour before you go to bed.
Fill your space with a calming scent
Studies have shown time and again that lavender is one of the most powerful soothing scents and the best home remedy to ensure high quality sleep.
Create a calming lavender aromatherapy oasis with a few simple touches – burn a lavender candle, display a pretty lavender reed diffuser on your dresser, or fill your room with the scent of lavender sleep spray mist. Be sure to use 100% pure lavender essential oil products to reap the calming benefits.
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BEDTIME RITUAL: BEFORE YOU SLIP OFF TO SLEEP
The last few things you do just before going to sleep can have a substantial impact on your mood and energy the next morning.
Creating a special bedtime ritual leading up to when your head finally hits the pillow can be a powerful sleep aid as it tricks the brain - and body - into automatically relaxing and winding down. The result is you sleep better – and wake up feeling wonderfully refreshed and ready to take on a new day.
A bedtime ritual is quite personal and really depends on which of these tips you think will work best for you - or create your own…
Wash away stress with a warm soothing bath
Nothing is more relaxing than finishing off your day with a warm bath. Renowned for supporting deep sleep, bathing has a surprising number of other benefits, like soothing sore muscles and joints, helping heart health, clearing up the sniffles, balancing hormones, calming irritated skin – and even burning calories.
Lavender has healing properties that boost all of these benefits. Toss in some lavender bath salts, sponge off with lavender bath/shower gel, then lie back and soak in all the goodness while donning a weighted spa mask to soothe sore tired eyes. Aim to bathe about half an hour before bedtime to allow the body time to cool a little before sleep.
Add a relaxing bedtime beauty routine
A little indulgent self-pampering is the ultimate pre-bedtime relaxing treat. And if it helps you sleep well, even better. Treat sore tired hands and feet with a pure lavender-infused luxury hand crème or foot balm. Or slather on a generous dollop of lavender body lotion for all over self-care.
Try a little bit of reflexology that is known to help relax the body and alleviate stress. Give your body some extra TLC by massaging lavender essential oil into areas like the soles of the feet, hands, and ears. Your skin will quickly absorb its calming and soothing benefits.
Prep your bed for sleep
Adding in a little extra lavender magic will help you slip into dreamland quickly and easily. Spritz your pillowcases with a lavender linen spray, tuck a lavender sachet in your pillowcase or fill a pretty bowl with pure lavender buds to leave on your bedside table. And don’t forget your sleep mask to block out all light.
If at any stage you still find yourself wide-eyed and staring at the ceiling, then just take a couple of deep sniffs of lavender essential oil straight out of the bottle.
Read a good book
Many people find that relaxing with a good book in bed helps them fall asleep (as long as it’s not a nail-biting thriller!). Ideally however, it’s best to read in another room so that your brain only associates your bed with sleep, and then continue in bed once you find yourself nodding off. But do whichever works best for you.
Drink something warm
Top off your bedtime ritual by drinking a warm cup of tea or your favorite beverage to help calm the mind and get you in the mood for sleep. Chamomile tea is a sleep time favorite for adults, while a cup of warm milk is a great go-to bedtime drink for kids.
Set fixed go-to-sleep and wake-up times
If you’re constantly going to sleep and waking up at different times, your body is going to get confused, and the quality of your sleep will suffer. Build the time you need to sleep into your routine and stick to it throughout the week and weekends. Your body will quickly adjust to the schedule and reward you with a good night’s sleep – every night.
Finally, if you find yourself still struggling to nod off after 30 minutes or so, get up and go to another darkly lit room and repeat some of your routine. Once you start feeling sleepy, go back to bed and try again. Sweet dreams!
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There's a difference between lavender essential oil and lavender oil, which is simply a perfume. If a label does not clearly state that it contains '100% lavender essential oil', then it is not a pure oil and should not be used as suggested.