1. Switch off the TV (or any other visual or audio stimulation) 1hr before bed. Even if dosing off in front of the set is your norm it is better to let the mind quieten down and unwind. TV can prove an unnecessary stimulus before bed, increasing the time it takes the mind to switch off and the body to fall asleep once in bed. Spending one hour before bed in quite can be one of the best changes you make.
2. Do not go to bed on an empty stomach. The worst thing you can do is go to bed hungry. This may result in intermittent waking and an overall poor quality of sleep. Aim for a meal with minimal insulin driving carbohydrates and sugars.
3. Stretch. This is important especially if you are very physically active. Stretching is as important as any strength and fitness protocol, but unfortunately a highly neglected part of individual fitness. A full body stretching routine will relax the muscles and be another step towards a trouble free sleep.
4. Open the windows to ventilate the air in the room. This will improve the quality of oxygen in your house/room and help you fall asleep faster as well as deeper.
5. Dim the lights in your bedroom before bed. Body’s syrcadian rhythm is a complex process that has evolved to work in synch with the natural day light. Lower the exposure to artificial light in order to bring the body into its more natural state. Dimmer, less harsh light will have a similar effect to switching off the TV before bed by encouraging the body to unwind naturally.
6. Aim for 6.5-7.5 hours. This has been shown to be the optimum number of hours to sleep. Having enough time to sleep is one of the most important and one of the hardest steps to take. Anticipate the day ahead and if it means setting an alarm to remind you to go to bed, do it.
7. Warm shower. For most of us a shower at the end of the day is a must. However having a warm shower helps to lower the body’s temperature upon exiting the warm water. Lowering body temperature has been shown to trigger that drowsy, sleepy sensation that will help you fall asleep faster.
8. Take deep breaths. Breathing patterns vary depending on our stress levels. Slower, fuller breaths help to relax the body, slow down the heart rate and return the system to a calmer more focused state. Once in bed, become aware of your breathing. Take full breaths: in through the nose and out through the mouth. Continue until you feel your heart rate slow and the body relax.
9. Meditate. You do not have to be trained at meditating technique to let the mind quieten before bed. Start with deep breathing and try to empty the mind of all thought.
10. Avoid intrusive waking with a harsh alarm. Train your body to wake up at a particular hour by following the steps above and then use a gentle alarm or a wake up light alarm such as a Lumie for natural waking.