Good sleep is key to your well-being, health, work productivity, and many other things. But we all live in the fast-changing environment where it’s often hard not only to get a decent amount of sleep but even to relax before going to bed and fall asleep quickly. Do insomnia and other sleep-related problems sound familiar to you? Or maybe you just sometimes have difficult times trying to fall asleep after the long and exhausting day. One way or another, it’s always useful to learn more about the ways to relax before sleep and fall asleep faster. Here we go!
#1. Establish Good Conditions for Sleep
Of course, if you are extremely tired, you will be able to relax and fall asleep even in the hot and bright bedroom watching your young children fighting for the iPad. Yet, in order to relax before sleep, you normally need quite the opposite. Creating good conditions for sleep and relaxation is highly important for a quiet evening, and it requires establishing a separate sleeping space, which should not be associated with work. In other words, don’t work in your bed and preferably even in your bedroom.
Apart from actually establishing this sleeping zone, you should adjust it to good relaxation. That is, keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Scholars have already shown that, put in the scientific English, “exposure to room light” suppresses melatonin, a hormone which regulates sleep. So try to limit room light if you want to relax and turn it off when you are going to bed. You can even paint the bedroom in some calming colors, which would help you relax. Besides, ensure that your bed is cozy and comfortable, and your mattress is convenient.
#2. Set a Sleeping Mood
You will hardly manage to relax before bedtime if you mind is full of financial reports and routine problems. Thus, the first rule is not to work right before sleep. Not only is it important not to work directly before going to bed, but you should leave away even any thoughts about your work, especially those that disturb and bother you. Read an interesting book instead (when I say book, I mean an actual book, not Twitter feed).
As one of the ways to enhance your sleeping mood, you can try to reflect on the previous day and write down a list of your achievements. Besides, you can think about the next day and create a plan for it (but, again, don’t go too deep into working plans). Dreaming about something pleasant, such as a forthcoming vacation, might also help. If you are a religious person, you can pray in order to relax; if no, try one of various meditation techniques.
#3. Create a Pre-Sleep Routine
One of the most effective ways to do something consistently is to develop a habit of doing it. If you develop a habit of relaxation before bedtime, relaxing will be a much easier task for you in the future. Nothing will help you achieve it better than creating a pre-sleep routine, which doesn’t change from evening to evening. Although you might, of course, develop personal elements of this routine, I would suggest a few most common ones: light music, warm bath, and aromatherapy.
Listening to classics or any other light music can help you concentrate on relaxation, while warm shower or bath will have a positive influence on your nervous system. Different essential oils and other means of aromatherapy are also very beneficial for stress relief, which is the key to proper relaxation.
#4. Keep Screens Away
We’ve just discussed that bright light destroys melatonin in the body. For relaxation before going to bed, screen light is even more destructive than room light. The rule here is obvious: Don’t watch TV/use a computer before sleep. Apart from the physical impact of light, reading or watching the news, which is among the most popular ways of using TV and computers, will have an effect opposite to relaxation and stress relief. Even if you definitely can’t relax without your laptop, make sure you’re playing Minesweeper instead of reading Facebook.
Undoubtedly not using TV and computers before bedtime is crucial, the smartphone thing is even more important. The essential point is that you shouldn’t use your smartphone before sleep and especially shouldn’t take it to bed. The research shows that the more you use a smartphone or tablet during the evening time, the more difficult will it be for you to relax and fall asleep. Screen light, constant notifications, and Fear of missing out make it unlikely for you to feel relaxed in the evening. Of course, you can’t stop using smartphones entirely, but keeping them away during an hour or two before sleep seems more realistic. Printed books rule!
#5. Eat and Drink Healthy
Healthy nutrition enables not only your general health but sleep health as well. So you should follow a few simple rules of eating healthy if you want to learn how to relax before going to bed.
- Don’t eat heavy food before sleep. Of course, you can eat in the evening — and even should do it if you are an owl and usually fall asleep at 3 AM. But eating heavy food before bedtime won’t allow your stomach to relax and will create difficulties for digestion. As Business Insider’s Erin Brodwin puts it, “our bodies aren’t designed to eat a big meal and collapse on the couch or the bed afterwards”.
- Be careful with caffeine. Remember than coffee (as well as cola, tea, and other caffeinated drinks) disrupt the ability to relax and fall asleep even when taken 6 hours before sleep. Ideally, you should limit yourself with a few cups of coffee in the morning and afternoon.
- Be careful with alcohol. Of course, a stereotype says that a glass of wine is a perfect method to relax. Indeed, alcohol can help for a short-time relaxation. But its overall influence on the long-term ability to relax and on the quality of sleep is, according to the National Sleep Foundation, quite negative.
- Drink herbal tea. It’s not a very original tip, but it does work. If your goal is to relax, chamomile, lavender, cinnamon, or any other herbal tea can decrease anxiety and soothe your nervous system.
#6. Try Exercises
Active lifestyle is vital for the general condition of your health, and sleep health, of course, is not an exception. First, to get relaxed in the evening, you should maintain a high level of physical activity during the day. If you are physically tired, it will be much easier for you to relax and, consequently, fall asleep faster. Exposure to sunlight throughout the day has the similar effect. In other words, walk to the office instead of taking a taxi and take a walk instead of watching Netflix.
Apart from physical activity during the day, you can engage in relaxation exercises before sleep. There are different options here, from simple physical exercises to yoga. One of the most popular such activities is breathing technique, such as the method of “relaxing breath”, also called the 4-7-8 breathing technique. You can also try the relaxing staircase technique or any other you like — just Google them.
So, let’s summarize the main things you need to do if you want to relax before going to bed.
- Sleep in a quiet and dark bedroom, which is not a place for work, and ensure your bed is comfortable.
- Don’t think about work before sleep; try to concentrate on something pleasant.
- Establish a pre-sleep routine, which might include aromatherapy, taking a warm bath, and listening to light music.
- Don’t watch TV and don’t use a computer a few hours before sleep. And especially don’t take your smartphone to bed!
- Eat moderately before sleep, don’t drink alcohol and caffeinated drinks, try herbal tea instead.
- Be physically active during the day and try relaxation exercises in the evening.