Do you read yourself a bedtime story and tuck yourself in every night? Sleep expert Dr Dave Gibson thinks you should. Here’s why bedtime routines aren’t just for kids.
before we can even walk or talk, our life is full of routine
When we’re babies, repeating daily routines helps us learn and form habits. We start to predict them and understand why we do them. At night, for example, there is often a feed, a bath, we’re dried off for a cuddle, we read a story, and then we’re placed in our cot. We soon figure out the purpose of these steps is to fall asleep.
But we often abandon a regular evening routine when we’re old enough to manage our own sleep, usually so we can fit more activities in. That’s why so many of us struggle with falling asleep - we don’t switch off.
If you’re struggling to drift off, maybe it’s time to get back to basics. After all, routines make us feel safe and reduce anxiety and stress, so it’s exactly what we need when we’re trying to get a bit of shut eye.
consistency is key
It’s a good idea to figure out an order for your bedtime routine and the best time to go to sleep, and stick to that most nights. Being consistent with your bedtime strengthens your circadian rhythm, otherwise known as your body clock, and it makes it easier to fall asleep.
Our body clock keeps all our internal systems running smoothly, such as when we eat, when we sleep and the release of hormones. Consistency allows it to operate at its best.
setting up your bedtime routine
What steps should you be adding to your bedtime routine? Here are a few suggestions, and the reasons why they’re so important for great sleep:
A warm bath or shower - this works wonders. After the warmth of the water, our body temperature cools, which is one of the main triggers for sleep.
A bedtime fragrance - Lavender is a soporific scent (which means it makes you drowsy), and can be used either in the bath or on your pillow.
Lights off - It’s really important to turn off all tech about one hour before bed due to the blue light it emits. And turn down your lights too if you can. Light, or the lack of it, is the most important signal to the brain that it’s time for sleep.
Relax - After getting the light right, doing some sort of relaxation technique or meditation helps to slow down our hard-working brains.
every great day starts the night before
You know how it is after a great night’s sleep - our mood, health and brains are feeling top notch, like we can take on the world.
Good sleep makes us have even more good sleep too, as it helps us stick to our routines, and our sleep routines help us get to sleep more easily. It’s a cycle that really does strengthen the more you do it. All that’s left to do is practice, practice, practice. So run that bath and grab a good book, it’s time to get those zZzs in.