Winding down after a busy day whether you’re a worker bee, a busy parent or if you’ve just had a hectic day can be difficult. This can then impact your sleep pattern and set you up for a vicious cycle of reduced sleep, low mood and a lack of quality rest.
A good way to wind your whole body down and prepare for a good night’s sleep is to send signals to each of your five senses that it’s time to relax, switch off and prepare for a deep restful sleep. Optimising your surroundings for bedtime will help build a positive, healthy routine and allow your body to create habits that make it quicker and easier to fall into a quality sleep.
Here are some ways you can optimise your surroundings for each of your senses ahead of bedtime:
There is a lot of conflicting information regarding what you should and shouldn’t eat before bed, full of myths that have been passed on like old wives’ tales. However, two of the main things you need to avoid before bed are caffeine, a chemical that causes the body to be on alert, and foods that are difficult to digest. These will both send signals to the body to be awake, making falling asleep much more difficult.
Avoid drinks like tea, coffee, energy drinks and fizzy drinks close to bedtime. Instead, opt for caffeine-free alternatives such as herbal teas or water.
Try to avoid eating heavy meals before bed, too, the digestive system being in motion for heavier foods can disturb sleep and interfere with the quality of rest you’re able to have.
With candles, humidifiers and oil diffusers, there are a lot of options for creating a soothing ambience through the sense of smell in the home, but, which are the best ones for a good night’s sleep?
According to the Sleep Foundation, some scents can promote better relaxation than others making them better options for a good night’s sleep. Some of the best scents to surround yourself and use within aromatherapy techniques before bed include:
This is probably the most popular scent for sleep relaxation and for aromatherapy alternatives for sleep treatment. There is a lot of medical research into the use of lavender in oils, in bath products before bed or applied to the skin in a lotion that shows that its use can help fix some issues of insomnia and improve the quality of sleep by those who use it.
Whether you choose to drink chamomile tea before bed and allow yourself to breathe in the calming smell or opt for chamomile lotion before bed, the smell can help calm anxiety levels and prepare the brain for sleep.
There is evidence that the scent of Jasmine can have a calming effect on the body. Recent studies have shown that inhaling the scent acts as a sedative to more anxious minds and improves insomnia.
The sounds that relax us can be a very personal choice; while one person may find falling asleep to the sound of the ocean the most relaxing - it may cause others to need the loo. While one person may fall asleep to the loud guitar strings of Brian May, another may prefer the soothing voice of Adele.
However, there are certain sounds that have been scientifically proven to help the body prepare for better sleep. Popular apps like Headspace or Calm provide soundscapes that are designed to help people sleep better. According to Calm some of the most effective sounds for sleep include:
There are sounds with different frequencies such as white noise, brown noise or green noise, that provide static sounds that act as a blocker from other surrounding sounds that may disrupt your sleep.
Ocean waves, rainwater or meadow soundscapes are often popular sounds for relaxation as they trick the mind into being at one with more natural surroundings and help bring that serenity into the sleeping space.
Finally, music is used by many to fall asleep. The best type of music for sleep is the kind that helps lull you into a calm sleep by offering a rhythm that helps regulate your circadian rhythm and help your full body to relax.
The temperature we are and the surroundings we have can also impact sleep. Experts say that the ideal room temperature for sleep is 19-21 degrees Celsius. This means making sure your room is cool, but not cold, with the right ventilation.
Using temperature-regulating mattresses and bedding can be an easy way to keep your body at the right temperature for sleeping, especially if you’re more prone to getting too hot whether this is due to medications, drinking your tea before bed or even your hormones. The technology of this bedding allows a more comfortable, cosy way to keep your body the optimum temperature for a good night’s sleep.
Last but not least, the things we see can also impact how well we sleep. While a dark room is the best option for sleep, reds, yellows and oranges are the best lighting shades to surround yourself with to prepare the mind for sleep. Spending time within warmer-hued lighting in the hours leading up to bedtime can help regulate our sleeping patterns.
Choosing to spend time in a particular room can also help you better prepare for a good, restful sleep. Particular decors and colours are good for regulating the body ahead of time. For example, blues can signal calmness, greens are said to reduce stress and more neutral colours can minimise mental distraction.
Taking conscious steps to regulate each of your senses in the lead-up to sleep will help you to build healthy habits and create prompts for your mind and body that the time to sleep is coming. This means that, by the time you settle down to sleep, your mind is relaxed and regulated to help you fall asleep quicker and in a more relaxed state.