If you have young children, the chances are you've put a fair bit of thought into their bedtime routine. It might include a warm bath, a bedtime story, a drink of milk, a favourite toy - or just about anything that gives you a chance to get them into bed and asleep without too much of a fight!
Day in day out you repeat pretty much the same routine with them. You may not love having to read the same story book yet again but the safe, familiar, calm routine is what (hopefully) helps them to wind down and get ready to sleep. For most parents, the time it takes is worth it if it helps their children to fall asleep more easily.
In stark contrast to this is our own night-time routine each evening. As adults, our bedtime routine often consists of switching the TV off, checking our phones one more time, brushing our teeth and getting into bed. Then we wonder why we don't sleep well.
In fact, just like our children, we can benefit hugely from a period of quiet wind-down time in the evening. We need a relaxing routine to help us transition from our busy, fast-paced days filled with stress, work, to-do lists, emails, phones and TV to the peace and calm that is needed to be able to get a good nights sleep.
So if your current bedtime routine involves pressing the off button on the remote then taking a last look at your inbox, here are some ideas on how you can incorporate a more relaxed wind-down routine into your evening. You may be surprised at how much it can benefit your sleep...
Try and go to bed at roughly the same time every night. It can be tempting to stay up later at the weekends but sticking to a regular sleep pattern can be beneficial.
Start your wind-down routine at least 30 minutes before bed. An hour is even better.
During your wind-down time make sure you avoid all your tech including TVs, computers, laptops and phones. These gadgets can play havoc with your sleep patterns if you spend too much time on them in the evening. You can always record favourite programmes then watch them at a time which suits you better.
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine in the evening. In fact it's best to cut out all caffeine after 3pm each day. If you like to have a hot drink before bed why not try a warm, milky drink or chamomile tea which can be great for helping you to gently relax.
It's best not to eat a large meal too late in the evening as this can make it difficult to sleep. If you feel hungry try having a light snack. Something like wholemeal toast or cheese and oatcakes is perfect.
If anything is worrying you or playing on your mind find someone to talk it through with or write it down so you can look at it with a fresh mind the next day.
Find some activities that help you to relax and unwind. Try reading a book (best to avoid the latest thriller if you're trying to relax!), listening to music or taking a warm bath.
Use essential oils to help you relax after a busy day and sleep better. My article How to Sleep better with Essential Oils has lots of suggestions on which oils to pick and how to use them.
Try a relaxation technique to help you wind down and clear your mind. I often show my clients a progressive muscle relaxation technique which is perfect for use in the evenings. It involves tensing then relaxing various muscle groups in a set sequence and can be very effective for helping to clear the mind and reduce any tension before going to sleep. You could also try a guided visualisation designed to help you sleep. There's a huge range out there to download or purchase.
So if you're having trouble drifting off at night why not give some of these ideas a try and have a go at building in a relaxing wind-down routine before bed. Sweet dreams!
Please note - In no way is this information designed to take the place of professional medical advice. If you're continually struggling to sleep please seek advice from your GP.
I am the founder and owner of Calme Therapies, based in Colchester, Essex. I am a qualified aromatherapist, massage therapist and relaxation therapist and I specialise in working with clients suffering from stress and tension.
If you would like to find out more, make an enquiry or book a treatment please contact me.