Ahhhh bedtime, a time most of us look forward to after a long and exhausting day. Do you find yourself counting down the minutes until you can finally hit the sack, only to be disappointed when your exhausted body hits the mattress and your brain would rather party. This is usually when my brain likes to go over something cringe worthy I said in the tenth grade or contemplate where my favourite pair of fuzzy socks might be. There’s not a lot in life more frustrating than laying awake all night, watching the hours go by when you want to sleep so badly. I’ve found that my habits and rituals leading up to bedtime can really affect the night I’m going to have. We need to create a routine and associations for our brain to recognize that it is time to wind down. Below I will share some ideas to prepare your body to get lots of good quality sleep.
- The first step is realizing how important sleep is to your health and well being. It helps us to perform at our best, reduces anxiety, and prevents illness and disease when we get enough. If you don’t recognize a good night’s sleep as a vital thing in your life, you won’t be very successful in creating the associations needed to make it happen.
- Have a sleep schedule. Aim for the same bedtime and wake up time every day to set your internal clock.
- Create an optimal environment for sleep, keeping your bedroom dark, cool and quiet.
- Write out to do lists, concerns, and worries on paper. This can allow you to free your mind of all the things that crowd your brain and come back to them the next day.
- Use your bed for sleeping, not for texting, watching tv, doing paperwork, homework etc. These activities all stimulate your brain rather than relax you.
- Practice relaxation exercises before bed such as meditation, tensing and relaxing your muscles, and deep breathing.
- Get enough exercise. Exercise (not too close to bedtime as it can be stimulating) promotes good sleep.
- Last but not least, create a bedtime routine that signals your brain it is time to sleep. Try to start this minimum one hour before bed. Our bodies like routine and to know what is coming, so if you perform the same activity each night your body will begin to associate it with it being time to sleep and you will start to relax.
Try a soothing massage with our Maple Organics Lavender Skin Therapy to relax muscles with the added benefit of lavender essential oil, well known for it’s calming and relaxing properties. Lavender is also available in a pre diluted roller that can be rolled on pulse points and the bottom of your feet before bed to promote relaxation and calm. You can use this method on children who have trouble falling asleep as well, with a soothing Skin Therapy massage after a warm bath. Other things you can try include listening to soft music or a podcast, reading a book, watching a calm tv show, a warm shower, light stretching, or having a warm glass of a caffeine free beverage such as Maple Organics Rose Moon Milk, which is loaded with sleep inducing adaptogens. Be sure to stay off of computers and phones for at least an hour before bed as the bright screens stimulate rather than calm the brain.
If you get into bed and sleep is eluding you even after your calming bedtime routine, try a mental exercise such as reciting the lyrics from your favourite song, naming as many animals as you can that start with each letter of the alphabet, counting backwards, or give this breathing technique created by Dr. Andrew Weil a try: inhale through your nose while counting to four, hold your breath for a count of seven, then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
Sweet dreams ahead!