I love to relax before bed. However, when sleep fails to come and you’re lying awake in bed and the more you try to get to sleep the more it seems to elude you.
There are a number of tips to help relax your mind and switch off at bed time. These range from making a to-do list, meditative breathing, getting your bed time routine right to listening to a guided meditation. Below I’ve listed my tips in detail to help you relax your mind and switch off before bed time. These tips are based on my own personal experience. I do hope they help you too.
I don’t know about you but when I know that I need to get to sleep, it is those times when my mind says no you need to think about whatever. This really does get on my nerves as I know tomorrow always comes whether I’m tired or not!
If you want to relax before bed, how do you quieten those racing thoughts that keep your mind active when you really do need to get to sleep? There are things that I do to keep improving my bed time routine and to get the best night’s sleep. These can be broken down in to two phases, the first is to relax my body and the second one is to shut down that every so busy mind.
Of course, detaching yourself from the stresses and strains of the day is sometimes easier said than done but let me share with you what I do. I hope they help you too in your journey to get the best night’s sleep anywhere!
- Tip 1 to relax before bed: Write down your to-do list
There are times when I have a huge to do list and if I’m tossing and turning I often think about all the things I have to remember to do! It doesn’t matter if it’s something good or something that I don’t want to do or something that is going to make me happy or something that is stressing me out. These things just go around in my head. By writing my to-do list down before I get in to bed I am giving myself permission to forget about them.
There is scientific proof that this helps people fall asleep nine times faster than those who don’t. If you want to read up on the study just head here to find out more.
What works for me is having a lovely notebook beside my bed.
Before getting in to bed I spend some time writing my to-do list. This can be anything and can be as short or as long as you want. I then say in to myself “that is for tomorrow”. I am basically giving myself permission to forget about those tasks and pick them up again tomorrow.
- Tip 2 to relax before bed: A bedtime routine
Ever since my children were young we have all had bedtime routines. I am a firm believer in having routines to help ground children but also for myself, so I know what I’m doing and when. Some of things that help me with sleeping is to turn off cell phones, tablets or any other gadgets that are in the room. Some people use their cell phones for an alarm, I would suggest buying a separate alarm clock though! Have a set time for getting ready for bed including having a shower or bath, this also helps with relaxing you as the warm water is soothing on your skin. I use bath foam and oils with lavender in them as this has always worked for my boys and me too! I also get my clothes ready for the next day so that I’m prepared for when the alarm goes off.
- Tip 3: Exercise
I incorporate exercise in to my daily routine. I often walk at lunch time and walk to the train station which takes me about 40 minutes. Exercise is a great way of destressing too. If you want to read more about ways to fit walking in to your daily life, then head over to my other blog Walking Body and Mind to read more.
- Tip 4: Try a relaxing guided meditation
One thing that often helps calm my mind is to play a guided meditation. I love the ones that have a rush of waves on the shore or the ones where you hear the rain drops falling on a roof. These types of sounds are fantastic to give your mind something to concentrate on or as I like to say to shut it up for a while! I did try an audio book once, but I was gripped by the story so ended up staying up later than I would normally. My tip is to avoid audio books just before going to bed.
You could listen to other soothing sounds. You know the sounds that can bring you back to your childhood or sounds that you like. For example, the sound of chimes would certainly help me get off to the land of nod.
Relaxing ambient sounds will help you drift off to sleep like the sound of waves on the shore…
- Tip 5 to relax before bed: Practice mindful breathing exercises
I own a Fitbit and it is the best piece of kit I have ever owned. It helps ensure I reach my 10,000 steps target each day, but it also has a breathing app that helps me practice mindful breathing for 2 minutes at a time. By focusing my attention on my breathing, it helps me keep the stresses and strains of the day at bay.
Of course, my mind can wander back to whatever I’ve been thinking about but it’s so easy to bring it back to concentrating on breathing again. It’s something that you can do when you first get in to bed or if you find you have been tossing and turning it’s a great tip to help you you’re your mind and drift to sleep. It’s easy to do also without having to annoy your partner or having to put the light on to disturb others.
Doing this means as my breathing slows so does my heart rate and this calms me right down. It’s great to practice this when lying in bed. I can highly recommend it.
- Tip 6 to relax before bed: Lower the temperature
It is now a thing in our house to keep the bedroom windows on the latch even through the night. I was finding that the room was just too warm and stuffy and as our body temperature changes when we are asleep it made sense to keep some fresh air coming in. I think having a temperature of around 15 to 23 degrees centigrade is about right for most people.
Keeping the room on the cooler side will also help if you are experiencing hot flashes with the menopause too!
No matter what temperature make sure it is comfortable for you and consider changing your duvet to one that suits you and one which can keep you the right temperature.
- Tip 7: Get Up
It can be counter productive trying to make yourself go to sleep. When this happens to me I can be awake for hours thinking about how we as humans go to sleep!
Another tip is to get out of bed and do something that will occupy your hands/mind. There really is no point in lying there awake with your brain racing everywhere it can. When I feel like this I go in to the living room and stare out in to the garden and listen to what is going on around me. It’s often silencing to be honest but even that break of getting out of bed and realising how tired I am makes me want to try getting to sleep again.
- Tip 8: Keep your feet warm
This is true – a study conducted by researchers in Switzerland found that those who had warm feet and hands experienced rapid sleep onset quickly. I often wear bed socks in the winter although I have been known to waken up during the night to throw them off as my feet are too warm!
These are just a few tips to help relax your mind and switch off at bed time for a good night’s sleep. I have tried all the the tips above. There are times though when I still find it hard to sleep but it doesn’t last long because I have these tips to help me get sorted.