Tossing and turning as the clock ticks on can be a frustrating experience. If you’re already feeling stressed out, sleepless nights would only make you feel worse. Thankfully, one pastime may be the solution.
Nuffield Health – the UK’s largest healthcare charity – notes how “a dip in body temperature can help you get off to sleep”.
Don’t fear though, walking outside without a coat on isn’t recommended, nor is plunging your feet in a bucket of cold water.
There is a much more pleasurable way to reduce your body temperature to encourage a peaceful slumber.
Just before bedtime, run yourself a very warm bath – it’s the cooling effect once you step out of the tub that prepares you for sleep.
Why not make this nightly ritual an indulgent treat? You can do this by lighting candles, dimming the lights and adding a luxurious bath cream.
“Light is one of the biggest factors to affect our sleeping pattern,” added Nuffield Health.
“That’s because our eyes have receptors which sense the light and communicate with the brain to tell us whether it’s day (awake) or night (sleep) time.”
This is why dimming the lights in the bathroom further helps to prepare the body for sleep.
Artificial blue light emitted from smartphones and laptops can disrupt melatonin production – the sleep-inducing hormone.
This is why it’s recommended not to engage with those devices while sitting in the bath (or afterwards).
The blue light “interferes with our natural body clock” – otherwise known as the circadian rhythm.
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Moving into the bedroom, make sure there are no flashing light or digital clocks emitting light.
Blackout blinds or curtains are highly recommended, as well as using a draft excluder to block out light from the hallway.
Having the best set-up for sleep is paramount, so as well as no lights, temperature plays an important role.
Cooling off from the very warm bath, Nuffield Health advise the bedroom temperature to be between 15-17 degrees.
“It’s possible to train yourself to associate certain restful activities [such as an evening bath] with sleep.”
Creating a consistent bedtime routine can, in time, help you fall asleep much more easily.
In keeping with consistency, waking up and going to bed at the same time is also advisable – even on your days off.
Moreover, try to avoid stimulants before bed, such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
To benefit the most from being asleep, it’s important to get “good quality” shuteye.
This is about having “the right balance of deep, slow-wave sleep and shallow, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep” – where dreaming occurs.
The Sleep Foundation explained there are four stages of the sleep cycle, with REM taking place at least 90 minutes into sleeping.
A key way to balance REM and more slow-wave sleep is to focus on good “sleep hygiene” by having a regular bedtime routine.