Let's Talk About...Bedtime: Preparing For a Dreamy Night
Life goes in circles, from night to night we prepare for bedtime, sleep, wake up, live the day, repeat. We often do this in a mechanical fashion, without much thought on the effects night has on our day, yet we can plan for a better night sleep and reap the rewards that follow.
There’s many things we can do within our home and habits that we can cultivate, it's a broad topic that I've narrowed down to natural methods, within our control that make the winding down process enjoyable.
There's a 99% chance you need at least 7 hours of quality sleep to avoid the negative effects of sleep deprivation. Plan ahead and make time for the right amount of sleep, you will see the benefits across all areas of your life.
Start to plan early in the day by consciously making decisions to support quality sleep. If you are having restless sleep avoid caffeine after 2pm, and not just in coffee but also soft drinks and black teas. Choosing the right way to use your time in the evening can also promote a deeper state of relaxation. Use time wisely.
Body & Mind
Start by checking in with your needs, the needs of your body and your mind. Sounds simple but you would be surprised how many of us push through aches and worries. Understanding how you are feeling will help you at any point of the day but specially in the lead up to bedtime. What activities can support or shift how you are feeling? Do you have something on your mind you are putting off? You might have an understanding of what this means to you but think of letting off steam with exercise, reading a book, choosing the right meals or doing some yoga. There are so many options and you can go on your own adventure to discover what works for you and when.
Home & Bedroom
Your home, including your bedroom should be your sanctuary, the safest and most relaxing place you can turn to. Let fresh air and sunshine in during the day, keep it clean and free of clutter. Avoid electronic devices and bright lights and support a calming environment with peaceful/lounge music, candles and essential oils. Choose colours around the house that you enjoy, and in the bedroom choose those that calm you.
Sleep favours cooler temperatures, aim to warm the feet and keep the torso and head cool. While warmth is relaxing in Winter, warm the house but avoid warming the bedroom. In Summer cool the bedroom in the lead up to bedtime. The optimum temperature for sleep is 18 Degrees Celsius, work in line with your climate to get as close to it as possible, and also pay attention to the bedlinen you own and adjust according to the season.
Bed & Sleepwear
It’s recommended to keep a mattress up to ten years and to turn and vacuum it regularly. Pillows have a recommended time of use, can be protected with a cover and along with the doona can be aired out. The best materials will depend on allergy and temperature control needs, however natural fibres are generally preferred. Synthetic fibres can overheat the body during sleep and interrupt our natural sleeping patterns. It's worth investing in this area of your life.
Last but not least, dress dreamy and comfortable in natural soft fabrics. You can have a warm outfit around the house, then change into light sleepwear that signals bedtime.
Dreaming is an important function of sleep, try to pause any overstimulation of the brain in the lead up to sleep but definitely once you are in bed. Have a warm lamp within reach and be conscious of the activities you are taking to bed. Reading, journaling, cuddles, listening to peaceful music, meditating, prayers and gratitude are known to promote restful sleep over activities that stimulate the mind such as news, social media and TV. If you do find certain distractions useful such as the TV then choose content that is emotionally light and positive.
Remember no two days are the same and your needs will vary. Be flexible and curious in your approach, and with some planning and conscious choices you will start to cultivate habits that promote relaxation and good sleep.