The Ultimate Wind-Down Routine for Better Sleep

Jan 10, 2024 | Sleep

Are you tired of lying awake trying to turn off your thoughts? You’re not alone. Your missed zzz’s are deteriorating your health. Thankfully, you’ve come to the right spot to start getting the sleep of your dreams!

Sleep Routines and Why You Need to Wind Down Before Bed

Establishing a consistent sleep routine, particularly a wind-down routine, is incredible for fostering both mental and physical health. 

Most of us already follow a daytime routine, but our evenings commonly lack a similar structure. I bet some of your daytime activities even leak into your evening, giving room for stressors to sneak up on us, causing our thoughts to spiral or for us to do ‘just one more’ thing before we close our eyes. 

For those who can sleep anytime, anywhere, it might not pose an issue, but for those struggling to switch off, a structured wind-down routine will be transformative.

Sleep plays an essential role in the body’s repair and restoration processes, as well as in eliminating toxins.During sleep, our body undergoes physical repair, focusing on muscles and tissues to rejuvenate them for the next day. This restorative process also includes the removal of toxins that accumulate in the brain during waking hours. Getting enough sleep (7-8 hours minimum) can’t be stressed enough for our emotional health, too. It provides the brain with an opportunity to process and make sense of the day’s experiences and emotions and store our memories. This helps us better manage stress and maintain emotional balance.

But how do you jump from a day full of activity to a calm nighttime that sets you up for sleep success? The key is to put your day to bed before you go to bed. Aim for a minimum of a half hour before bedtime, but we recommend at least an hour.

A well-structured wind-down routine serves as a bridge from the day’s hustle to a restful night, allowing you to decompress and subconsciously prepare your body and mind for slumber. The important thing here is that you maintain consistency to make it a ‘routine.’ This will allow your body and mind to have cues that it is time to go to sleep so you can reap the sleep benefits.

 

Before Bed Habits That Negatively Impact Sleep

There are certain habits before bedtime that can significantly disrupt your sleep more than others. They affect both the quality and quantity of rest you get. 

High on the list of sleep disruptors is the use of electronic devices before bed. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your body’s melatonin production. This hormone signals it’s time to sleep. This disruption makes it much harder for you to fall asleep. 

Speaking of hormones, have you been stressed lately? If so, your body will be experiencing higher levels of cortisol. Our body gets flooded with this fight, flight, freeze, or fawn hormone when we are experiencing a perceived threat. And while it does have its benefits for keeping us safe, our bodies haven’t evolved enough to recognize physiologically when this response is actually counterproductive to our health. A high level of cortisol not only will keep you awake, but chronically high-levels will damage your emotional and physical health in very serious ways. 

Another common culprit is caffeine consumption too late in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant that can remain in your system for several hours, keeping you alert and awake when you should naturally be getting tired. Similarly, alcohol, while it might initially make you feel drowsy, can lead to fragmented and non-restorative sleep, as it disrupts the natural sleep cycle.

Eating heavy or spicy foods close to bedtime can also be problematic. These can cause discomfort or indigestion, making settling into a restful sleep difficult. 

If you love a strenuous workout, you should also shift it earlier in the day. Intense physical exercise right before bed can rev up your energy levels, making it harder to relax and drift off.

Finally, a cluttered or non-conducive sleep environment also hinders your ability to fall asleep. A room that’s too warm, too bright, or noisy can keep you awake. 

Addressing these habits can make a significant difference in improving your sleep quality and ensuring that your body and mind are well-rested.

 

Sleep-Approved Activities for the Perfect Bedtime Routine

Your wind-down routine doesn’t have to be a massive obligation that sucks the time from your evening, but keeping these in mind and trying as many as possible will set you up for the refreshing sleep you’ve been craving:

A Warm Bath or Shower

Your body’s core temperature rises when you have a warm shower or bath. After you step out, there’s a rapid cool-down, mimicking the natural drop in body temperature that occurs during sleep onset. This signals your brain that it’s time to sleep, triggering melatonin production. It will also help to relax muscles and reduce tension, alleviating physical discomfort that could otherwise disrupt sleep. This combination of temperature regulation and physical relaxation prepares your body and mind for a restful night.

Reading a Book

Light reading as part of your bedtime routine helps distract your mind from the day’s stresses and anxieties. This mental diversion is helpful for relaxation as it lowers the brain’s arousal level, a state conducive to sleep. When you opt for a physical book instead of reading from a screen, you also reduce exposure to blue light, which disrupts sleep cycles

What Evening Food & Drink Consumption

Be conscious of your diet in the evenings, making sure you avoid eating big meals too close to bed as your body will be busy digesting rather than winding down for rest and restoration. We have talked about avoiding caffeine and alcohol but you should also avoid eating sugar too close to bedtime (though if you’re watching your health, you should avoid it during the day, too!). 

By watching what you eat and drink before bed, you can ensure you have no sleep disruptions due to stimulants, hormonal fluctuations, indigestion, or changes to your circadian rhythm.

Meditation or Mindfulness Practices

These activities reduce stress and promote relaxation, making it easier to transition to sleep. When you meditate or practice mindfulness, your heart rate slows, your blood pressure drops, and your stress hormone levels (like cortisol) decrease. 

Focusing on the present moment makes your mind less occupied with stressful or anxious thoughts, creating a peaceful mental environment conducive to falling asleep. Consistently incorporating these practices into your bedtime routine can make it easier to drift off to sleep and improve the depth and quality of your sleep, ensuring more restorative rest.

 

Natural Sleep Supplements & Sleep Aids

Incorporating natural sleep supplements, tools, and aids is an easy way to set up your mind and body for deep sleep. You can find a great selection of sleep products that we have curated just to help you! Expect aromatherapy, white noise machines and more.  

You can also talk to us about integrating sleep supplements into your health plan. Some helpful natural supplements to explore are: 

  • Melatonin: This naturally occurring hormone regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Supplementing with melatonin can help realign your body’s internal clock, particularly useful if you have irregular sleep patterns or suffer from jet lag.
  • Magnesium: This mineral plays a role in over 300 enzymatic reactions, including those that help regulate sleep. It aids in calming the nervous system so you can sleep peacefully.
  • Valerian Root: Known for its sedative properties, valerian root increases the levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which helps calm the brain and reduce anxiety, making it easier to fall asleep.
  • Lavender: Lavender has relaxing and sedative properties. It can decrease heart rate and blood pressure, putting you in a more relaxed state, perfect to wind down at night. You’ve likely seen it promoted in sleep sprays and bath products, too.
  • Chamomile: Apigenin is an antioxidant found in chamomile that binds to certain receptors in the brain. This binding action can induce sleepiness and improve sleep quality by helping reduce insomnia symptoms and promote mental relaxation.

Each of these supplements can support different aspects of the sleep process, from initiating sleep to improving its quality.  

Consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement is important. You are only a few clicks away from booking a FREE Health Consultation now! We can advise on appropriate dosages and potential interactions with other medications.

 

Still Struggling to Sleep?

Missing out on sleep is no-joke. To live your happiest, healthiest self you need to take action now and get the restorative rest your body needs to function optimally. With you in mind we have curated the best program to make sure you get the sleep you have been dreaming of. Not just for tonight, but for the rest of your life! 

 

Click here to master your sleep in just 5 simple steps!

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