We spend around a third of our lives sleeping. Or we should be at any rate, but with lives getting ever busier – demanding jobs, families to look after, life admin, social expectations – sometimes taking care of ourselves can fall by the wayside. It’s estimated that as many as 16 million UK adults suffer from sleepless nights as a third say they have insomnia. With this kind of statistic it’s unsurprising that improving sleep is the biggest health ambition for a quarter of UK adults, and yet half of them don’t do anything about it. But with sleep deprivation (less than 7 hours’ sleep) negatively impacting your waking life (poor concentration, poor memory, increased sickness), there are strong incentives to improve our sleep hygiene. So step away from the sleeping tablets, resist the urge to reach for an alcoholic nightcap, and try out these bedtime rituals to encourage healthy sleep habits.
Take a bath
Easier said than done, making time for a relaxing bath at the end of a long day can fall to the bottom of our priorities. Why spend time running a bath and soaking in it when a quick and convenient shower can seemingly achieve the same result? If you live in a flat with just a shower room or your partner hogs the bath to hose down his muddy football shoes every Sunday evening then this is going to be a challenging one, but for all bath owners I encourage you to rediscover it in all its horizontal glory. Taking a bath can signal the start of your bedtime routine, and whilst it may not be achievable on a daily basis, it can put you in great mental shape for the start of a busy working week. Take this opportunity to soak in some restorative bath salts such as Felicity McDonald Organic Bath Salts, a delicate blend of peachy pink Himalayan salts sprinkled with juniper berries, rose petals and lavender. Known as a good detoxifier, Himalayan salts work to de-stress your body by counteracting ‘the electromagnetic energy we absorb from modern day gadgets’ (source: The Independent) If a scrub is more your vibe then Buff Mama sea salt scrub features tension relieving Mandarin, soothing Lavender and tranquillity inducing Frankincense – an ideal combination for your bedtime routine. I’m the first to admit that I rarely make time for a bath, but when I do I always feel like it was time well spent, so this probably should have featured in my new year beauty resolutions.
Treat yourself to a nurturing cleanse
If a bath still feels like a poor use of your time there’s nothing stopping you from multi-tasking – in as relaxing a way as possible. While soaking in these bath salts take this opportunity to give your face a deep nourishing cleanse with the likes of Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm. Containing lavender and chamomile oils, this balm may not provide the soothing benefits that the essential oils format would, but the scent alone combined with the luxurious texture will contribute to the winding down of all senses.
Know your oils
If there’s one oil that has a reputation for sending you to slumberland it’s lavender essential oil. Not to be confused with lavender oil (as featured in Elemis’ Cleansing Balm) which is perfume, the essential oil is derived from the plant and therefore contains beneficial properties such as relaxing your mind and body as well as improving your sleep quality. As a dōTERRA Wellness Advocate, International Results Coach and Yoga Instructor Nina Sadlowsky knows a thing or two about this essential oil: ‘Known for its calming properties, lavender oil is also referred to as the Oil of Calm. The easiest way to reap its benefits is to inhale the oil directly from the bottle, take 3 deep breaths and enjoy the calming scent. Alternatively, place one drop of dōTERRA pure Lavender essential oil into the palm of your hand, gently rub hands together, hold hands in front of nose and inhale deeply with your eyes closed.’ If you fancy treating your face to a mini massage, ILoveSkin Face Oil+ includes lavender essential oil in a blend of nourishing fruit oils such as rosehip, poppy seed, raspberry seed, kiwi seed and pomegranate. Apply post bath to cleansed skin and massage in for a few minutes, leaving you with soft skin and no oily residue.
Introduce a relaxing routine
To promote sleep treat your bedroom as a sanctuary where work gadgets such as laptops and blue light emittors like phones (which messes with a healthy sleep pattern) are not allowed to disrupt your relaxing bedtime routine. A study by The Sleep Council reveals that 38% of us rate a comfortable bed as their top sleep tip they couldn’t live without, followed by black out blinds and reading a book. Whatever genre floats your boat, whether it’s biographies, self help or recipe books, allow yourself this time to get lost in a different world, encouraging a mental break from the whirlwind of that day. And if home fragrance is part of your lifestyle treat yourself to a candle on your bedside table and opt for notes of frankincense or cedarwood which supports production of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone. Nina recommends meditating for a minimum of 3 to 5 minutes if you’ve had a particularly hectic day: ‘If you haven’t meditated before, I find it helpful to sit comfortably and to place my hands on my belly, consciously breathing into my palms, feeling the belly rise, then letting my belly fall naturally. Do this at least five times and you’ll feel calmer in an instant.’
This may be one of the unsexiest Christmas gifts, but a few years ago my husband bought me a Lumie Bodyclock. And it’s honestly been one of the appreciated gifts he’s given me (and his overall gifting standard has been consistently high, I’m not comparing this to a pair of Christmas socks or birthday pen). I’m just not a morning person: no matter how early I go to bed, mornings feel foggy and painful, especially in the dark and cold winter months. But this alarm clock essentially mimics nature with a gradually brightening light in the mornings and a gentle fading ‘sunset’ in the evening, typically sending me off to sleep before I’ve finished reading my book’s chapter.
What are your bedtime rituals that guarantee a restful night? Please leave a comment below to let me know. And for more details on improved sleep and other stress-reducing tips check out Nina’s Pink Notes and her Instagram.
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