We spend all our childhood resisting sleep but being able to drop off in a split second. Then suddenly, it’s all we want to do but harder than growing on Instagram. If you’re having problems catching those zzzz’s, then here’s my tried and testing fool-proof method for getting a better nights sleep, which you can try tonight!
Bedtime routines seem a little infantile, but there’s a reason that kids have them – they work!
Before we talk about the nitty gritty details of the routine, you have to be ready to commit to doing the same thing every night, otherwise it isn’t going to work. Obviously there are going to be nights when you’re out for example when you have to break the routine, I’m not expecting you to cancel all your plans that go past 8pm. But most nights you need to be able to repeat the same process. In other words, don’t tell yourself you’re going to do a bedtime yoga routine every night if by the third evening you’re ditching it for 4 more reruns of Friends on Netflix.
Be realistic about what it is you want to put into your bedtime routine. The rest of this article will give you some ideas about what you might want to include, but it’s not compulsory. Try some different things until you find what works for you. How will you know it works? If you fall asleep quickly and stay asleep for the entire night, then bingo! That is definitely a best case scenario though, and I doubt you will see such a dramatic change in your sleep pattern in one night, but that’s what you’re aiming for. If you see that you’re going to sleep quicker but you’re still waking up, that’s still a win.
I will talk about things you can do to get back to sleep if you wake up later on in this article, which I have tried and tested myself.
This one isn’t going to be for everyone, but stick with me on this. There are loads of different types of herbal teas which are said to help with sleep. I personally like ones with chamomile in, they work really well for me. But there are all sorts of different ones which have different combinations of herbs to help bring on sleep. If you don’t like them as they are, that’s fine, maybe try it with a bit of honey before you completely right it off though. I find honey really bring out the flavour and stops it tasting like dirty dish water.
One of my favourites is the Bedtime Tea by Pukka. I make up a braw of this one about an hour before I plan to go to bed. It’s gentle in that I don’t pass out within seconds of the last sip, but it does help me to relax and chill out enough to nod off fairly quickly once I do get up to bed.
If you really can’t stand herbal teas, there are alternatives such as Horlicks which are great for helping calm things down. I like the chocolate Horlicks in winter, when I want to feel all snuggly and cosy in front of the fire. Try out a few different brand until you find one you like.
The one thing you want to avoid last thing at night is caffeine. Some experts say you should actually have any caffeinated drinks after 3pm if you want to get a decent nights sleep. I haven’t been quite this drastic, but I do avoid coffee in the afternoon and certainly don’t have any caffeine after about 6pm. Again, just find what works for you. If you have to sacrifice that last coffee of the day for a good nights sleep, surely it’s worth it?
Naturally our body clocks are designed to start winding down once it gets dark outside. The problem with modern technology is that we have so much artificial light in the evenings now. Not only the ones on the ceiling though, we have tablets, phones and TV’s all blasting bright light into our eyes which confuses our body clocks and stimulates the brain. This is a big reason why often we don’t actually feel tired when we get into bed. Or worse, we do feel tired but as soon as we get into bed it’s one final scroll on the phone which wakes us up again. Before you know it it’s four in the morning and you’ve been watching TikTok videos for 5 hours.
Now I’m a realistic woman. I don’t expect you to turn off all the lights and switch off all your devices hours before bed just to get a good nights sleep, but there are some things you can do to improve the situation.
Have you noticed your phone and tablets now come with a ‘night shift’ mode? Switch this on and between the hours you tell it, the type of light given off changes to one less stimulating for the brain. The screen might look a bit yellow, but it means that your brain is less confused – clever!
I also keep lighting in the house to a minimum. Usually I have one lamp on in the lounge which in combination with the TV gives enough light that I’m not straining my eyes. In the bedroom I have a salt lamp which gives off enough warm light for me to read by. This can make a huge difference to your sleep, as it tells your body it’s getting dark now and it’s time to think about winding down.
This one I really can’t recommend enough! I have been using the Calm app for sleep stories for two years now and I would never give it up now (not sponsored, honestly!).
Sleep stories are a bit like audiobooks, except they are normally between 20 and 40 minutes long and narrated in a way which any other time of they day might be described as a bit monotonous. The stories themselves are also quite slow paced and drama-free.
The idea is that the story is enough to keep your mind from wandering off and thinking about what you need to do tomorrow or that really embarrassing thing that happened on your lunch break, but not so interesting that you can’t nod off to them. It’s a fine balance which Calm have nailed in their app. Then, once the story as finished, your phone is locked and charging as it normally would. You don’t have to worry you’ll be woken up in the night by voices.
Of course there are probably other apps which do the same, I just really like this one. There is a free version which you can get a lot of stories from, but to really reap the benefits there is a £35 annual subscription. Totally worth it if it means you get to sleep quickly.
And remember when earlier I said there were things you could do if you wake up in the middle of the night – well I’ve found the stories a great way to calm my mind when I’ve woken up buzzing. I get back to sleep really quickly with these.
Some people ask me if it disturbs my husband as this could be quite an intrusive one for others – but honestly he doesn’t care. He says it helps him when he’s struggling to nod off (which really isn’t very often, annoyingly) and it’s not enough to stop him nodding off the rest of the time. So maybe one to try?
This one is guaranteed to get me nodding off – even when I don’t want it to! I always used to tell people I didn’t read at night because I would fall asleep before I got past the first page. Then it dawned on me – I ALWAYS fall asleep before I get past the first page! Why of why was this something to complain about?!?
So I started reading again. I don’t pick anything ‘hard’ to read, no thrillers or mysteries which require you to have to remember what’s been happening! I tend to read more non-fiction anyway, that’s just what I like. But if you don’t read at night, it’s certainly an option to try.
Similar to my first point, this is something we do as children but then some of us seem to grow out of it later on. But if it ain’t broke, then why fix it? Reading is a great way to calm busy minds and ultimately this is what you’re trying to do right before to nod off, right?
There’s a few ideas to get you started but as I said at the beginning try a few different things to see what works for you. If you don’t have any ideas, head on over to my sleep Pinterest board where I pin other ideas which could work for you.
One final piece of advice though before I let you get on with it, don’t make your bedtime routine too complex. The more you have to do the more likely you will give it up within a week. Stick to two or three things which you will do every night. You can add other things and take them away again as you need them, but always have the Skelton routine which you do all the time.
Once you’ve mastered your bedtime routine, why not come and share it over in the Facebook community? I’d love to hear what you are doing to drift off at night, and you might get some ideas from others too!
Hi, my name is Vicky and I am a Mindfulness expert. I have been practicing for over 10 years and throughout this time I have come to learn just how beneficial Mindfulness can be to each and every one of us.