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Doesn’t it feel wonderful when you get a good night’s sleep? When you wake up feeling refreshed and recharged. Wouldn’t you love more mornings like that?
Not only does it feel great in the morning to wake up well-rested, but getting a good night’s sleep is also crucial to our ongoing health and wellbeing.
sleep is the single most effective thing we can do to reset our brain and body health each day – Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep
While we know the importance of good sleep, many of us feel the frustration that comes when restful sleep alludes us.
If you’re wondering what you can do to help you sleep better, here are 7 simple self-care activities you can incorporate into both your day and your evening to help you to get a better night’s sleep.
During the day
1. Get outside
Science has shown than spending some time each day outside in natural light will improve the quality of your sleep. While thirty minutes each day is ideal, anytime you can get out of the house and into the fresh air is good for you.
Getting out into the fresh air will not only help you to sleep better. It’ll reduce stress, improve your mood, and boost your immune system too.
All great reasons to take that walk at lunchtime!
And speaking of walks…whether you go for a walk, run, cycle or hit the gym, exercise during the day is another great way to ensure you sleep better at night.
Just be mindful of the time of day you exercise.
Exercising too close to bedtime can prevent you from falling asleep easily. Ideally, exercise no later than 2 or 3 hours before you go to bed.
3. Be mindful of your caffeine intake
We all have different tolerances for caffeine.
Some of us (me included) are quite sensitive to it, and others can drink an espresso after dinner and have no problem getting to sleep and staying asleep.
I can’t drink coffee at all, but I love tea. Sadly, there’s no way I can drink tea in the evening and expect a restful night. In fact, I really can’t drink caffeinated tea after 3 pm and expect a good nights sleep.
Luckily there are plenty of delicious herbal infusions and decaffeinated tea products to choose from when I’m craving a warm, comforting drink.
Try not to automatically reach for caffeine when you need an energy boost. And remember, as well as coffee and tea, chocolate (particularly dark chocolate), some sodas and energy drinks contain caffeine too.
Pay attention to the caffeine you consume (both the amount and time of day) and how it affects your sleep at night. So next time you want to have some, you can make a mindful and informed decision.
Then, when you do indulge, you’ll enjoy it all the more knowing it’s not going to disturb your precious sleep!
4. Keep your bedroom clutter-free (and cool)
There many good reasons for living in a clutter-free environment, and they’re especially true when it comes to your bedroom.
Clutter contributes to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. So don’t use your bedroom as a dumping ground.
If your bedroom is full of clutter, along with baskets of laundry to be folded, and piles documents to be filed you’ll find it difficult to wind down from your day, switch off and relax. You’ll be distracted by all the undone tasks calling for your attention.
Aim to create a bedroom that feels like a restful sanctuary. A place that you love to spend time in and relax at the end of the day.
The temperature of your bedroom is important too. We sleep better when our bodies are cool, so try to keep the air temperature in your bedroom cool enough for restful sleep.
The ideal temperature for sleeping is around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit (or 15 to 20 degrees Celcius).
5. Write things down
When you feel organized and in control, your brain is able to unwind and relax easier, making it much easier to get a good night’s sleep. One of the best ways to feel more organized and in control is to regularly write things down.
Whether you write in a regular journal, a bullet journal, notebook, calendar or planner, getting your thoughts, to-do’s and must-remembers out of your head and onto paper will make you feel calmer, more organized and accomplished. All important states for helping you to sleep better.
You can read more about the benefits of writing things down at:
6. Eat and drink moderately
Eating until you’re uncomfortably full is not great for your health at any time. But if you’ve ever been to bed when your stomach is bursting you’ll know how difficult it is to sleep when you are still trying to digest your meal. Or when you have indigestion.
Have you ever wondered why you tend to toss and turn, or constantly wake up during the night after drinking alcohol?
Too much alcohol prevents you from falling into deep, restorative sleep. It keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep, making it more likely you’ll wake up.
And while a nightcap before bed may feel relaxing, once the effects of the alcohol wear off in the middle of the night, you’ll tend to wake up.
7. Create (and stick to) a bedtime routine
Adopting routines into your day is one of the best ways of improving your life, and a bedtime routine is no exception. When you create and stick to a regular routine at bedtime you’ll help your brain prepare your body for sleep, and boost your chances of having a restful night.
One of the most important aspects of your bedtime routine is timing. Try to go to bed at the same time each night, to ensure you get the right amount of sleep for you (experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours for adults).
If you get caught up in activities such as scrolling through your phone, or watching just one more episode of your favourite show, set an alarm to remind you to go to bed.
I’ve set a bedtime alert on my phone, and half an hour beforehand my phone will remind me that it’s time to start my bedtime routine.
It seems like such a simple thing, but it really does work! That little reminder prompts me to pause what I’m doing and make a conscious choice about what to do next. Most of the time I’ll choose to go to bed. But if I decide to stay up later than usual, it’s an intentional decision, not the result of losing track of time.
Try incorporating some of these activities into your bedtime routine for better sleep.
Stretching promotes mindfulness and relaxation – perfect for preparing both your body and mind for restful sleep.
Yoga is my favourite way to stretch and to wind down in the evening.
The YouTube channel Yoga with Adriene has a great selection of gentle yoga routines for all abilities that you can do before bed.
7 minute bedtime yoga
Wind Down yoga – 12 minute bedtime routine
Yoga For Bedtime – 20 minute practice
(b) Take a warm shower or bath
A warm shower or bath will help you feel relaxed, and when you get out, your body temperature drops, which can help to make you feel sleepy.
(c) Relax by reading a book or listening to an audiobook, podcast or music
Reading in bed each evening is an important part of my bedtime routine, but any relaxing activity that helps you switch off your mind and wind down, such as listening to an audiobook, podcast or music is a great addition to your bedtime routine.
What to do if you can’t fall asleep
So you’ve put out the lights, settled in under the covers, closed your eyes….and….nothing. You just can’t fall asleep. What should you do?
Firstly, don’t lie in bed awake.
Don’t expect to fall asleep immediately, but if you’ve been awake for more than 20 minutes, or you are starting to feel anxious, get out of bed. Tossing and turning and constantly looking at the alarm clock, worrying about being awake is definitely not going to help you fall asleep!
Instead, do something relaxing (for example stretches, yoga, or reading) until you feel sleepy.
Or maybe you’ve woken up in the middle of the night, wide awake with your mind racing. What now?
Get out of bed. Grab a notebook and write down what’s keeping you awake. Getting those thoughts out of your head will help you stop worrying about them.
Or try listening to a meditation app or relaxation podcast. The InsightTimer meditation app has a whole section dedicated to getting better sleep.
I recently discovered the podcast Sleep with Me. Host and creator Drew Ackerman, a.k.a. Dearest Scooter reads long-winded, really boring bedtime stories designed to put you to sleep.
Sleep with Me was a godsend during a recent bout of jetlag that had me wide awake at 2 in the morning. To be honest, I was sceptical whether I would fall asleep listening to stories, but I’m happy to say it worked for me!
So there you have it. 7 simple self-care tips to help you sleep better.
If you yearn to wake up feeling rested and refreshed tomorrow why not give some a try?