Written by MindMate Staff
Lay off the caffeine!
This one should be obvious, but it’s surprising how many of us still reach for coffee or tea late into the evening. That ‘relaxing’ cup of tea has the opposite effect because it’s full of caffeine which acts as a stimulant and keeps your brain buzzing long after you want it to shut down for the night. If you want to be extra sure, then make 12 noon your cut off point
Studies have shown caffeine can hang around in the brain for several hours, so that afternoon ‘pick-me-up’ coffee could come back to haunt you when it’s time to get some rest. Smoking is another enemy of sleep because nicotine is also a stimulant, so a nighttime cigarette should not be an alternative to tea or coffee.
Take a Hot Bath
A long soak in a warm soapy tub can be the ideal way to unwind and literally wash away the stresses of the day, but just why is it so relaxing? Well, it’s all to do with temperature: As you soak, your body temperature rises. This helps your body to detox through sweating, encourages blood flow and improve bodily functions. Endorphins are also released which boost the immune system, help you relax and make you feel good. The ideal bath-time is around 2 hours before you sleep to maximize these great benefits.
Get Everything in Order
Sleep will come much more easily if your brain has less to worry about, so making sure you are prepared for the next day’s adventures is super important! Something as simple as folding your clothes for work, preparing tomorrow’s lunch or planning a route you’ll be driving can satisfy your brain’s need to plan and ensure it is able to switch off for the whole night.
Create the Right Environment
When it’s getting late and the day is near it’s end, your body begins to release Melatonin- a chemical which makes you feel sleepy. But to do this your brain needs the right signals from your environment. Darkness is the main signal, so ensuring that your bedroom is free from bright lights and other distractions or even sitting in low light for a couple of hours before you head to bed can ease the transition between wide-awake and dreamland.
Don’t Scroll Before You Sleep
It’s tempting to immediately begin scrolling through your phone once you settle into bed, in fact 71% of us do, but bedtime really isn’t the best time to catch up on the latest news or friends’ activities. The artificial light from your phone quickly counteracts the Melatonin in your brain and reawakens you, making it more difficult to fall asleep. Your eyes are also affected by the light and straining.
Comfort is vital to not only the quantity, but also quality of your sleep. Even if you don’t realize it, becoming cold during the night or sleeping on a lumpy mattress can leaving you feeling tired and weary come the morning. Invest in some luxurious sheets and replace or flip your mattress regularly to maximize your quality of sleep. Or if that’s a bit much, even something as simple as wearing socks to bed can improve your comfort and prevent your temperature dropping as you sleep.
Choose Your Late-Night Snacks Wisely
If you want to avoid sudden dashes to the bathroom at 3am, it hardly needs to be said that drinking large amounts of water before bed isn’t a great idea; neither is consuming caffeine or alcohol. But when it comes to bedtime nourishment what you eat is just as important as what you drink. Eating spicy foods or large meals too close to bedtime forces your digestive system to work overtime while you try to get some shuteye. This disrupts your sleeping pattern and leaves your body overworked and tired, not maximizing your down-time. Studies have shown the ideal late evening snacks are foods associated with breakfast like oats, bananas and almonds.