Did you have a bedtime routine when you were little? Perhaps you have a bedtime routine that you follow with your little ones now? It seems perfectly normal to stick to a nightly ritual when we're small, but somehow we don't feel the need to follow the same pattern as we grow older.
Keeping a relaxing bedtime routine can lower our stress and anxiety levels, which in turn helps us to sleep easier. And stress has been shown to play a big role in skin conditions. But there is an even closer correlation between sleep and skin that makes getting a good nights rest absolutely vital. Our gut bacteria is directly impacted by how much quality sleep we get. The good bacteria in our digestive tract gets depleted when we sleep poorly. In turn, a reduction in good gut bacteria can lead to a poor nights sleep. This two-way cycle continues until we do something to break it. Seventy percent of our immune system lives in our gut, and relies on that good bacteria to keep it strong and healthy.
During winter, my after-work routine typically consists of 30 minutes exercise, followed by a long bath, lighting a roaring fire, lots of scented candles and homemade cookies + big mug of this tea. I try not to look at my laptop for at least two hours before bed (it doesn't always happen that way!) and I make time for a five minute guided meditation before sleep.
Getting into a regular wind down routine can make a huge difference to the quality of sleep you get. Avoiding the screen, reading a book, listening to relaxing music, having a bath and using essential oils - can all help promote sleepiness. Pick at least three things from the list below and commit to including them as part of your sleep routine for the next week. Then add another rule each week until you begin to see your sleep pattern improve.
Meditation takes many forms, but the end goal is the same: To quiet the mind and allow the body to relax. For people struggling to fall asleep, the benefits might be even greater. Meditation has been shown to reduce the need for sleeping pills. Why not try following this FREE guided meditation every night this week before bed.
Warm Caffeine-Free Cuppa
Drinking a warm cup of caffeine free tea such as my skin purifying blend which contains chamomile, has been found to provide stress relief. The nightly ritual of sipping from a steaming cup while reading a favourite book or talking with family can form an important wind-down routine.
Taking a relaxing bath can help relax tight muscles and ease tension, making it easier to drift off. Equally importantly, baths are an age-old stress reliever, providing a mental as well as physical remedy for feeling anxious and overwhelmed. I would recommend a Dead Sea Salt bath using a gentle scrub such as this one. If your skin gets particularly itchy during the evening, try adding a couple of cups of oatmeal to the sock end of an old pair of tights. Tie them in a knot and throw under warm water. The oats create a lovely, soothing, milky bath. Remember to apply lots of Calm Balm to soothe your skin before bed.
Write it Down
Sometimes, the easiest way to let go of stress after a long day is to write about it. Logging to-do lists and regular journaling help free our minds so that we can focus on sleep. Just remember to write the old-fashioned way (pen and paper) instead of making notes on your phone or laptop. The blue light from your screen is not conducive to sleep.
Exercise for Sleep
The temptation to crash out on the sofa after work is real! But just ten minutes of exercise when you get home will benefit you later that evening. Activities that get your heart rate up, such as running, brisk walking, cycling, and swimming, have been shown to improve sleep and battle insomnia. Even small bouts, such as 10 minutes is long enough to make a difference.
Sensor Screen Usage
Using TVs, tablets, smartphones, laptops, or other electronic devices before bed delays our body’s internal clock (a.k.a. our circadian rhythm), suppresses the release of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, and makes it more difficult to fall asleep. This is largely due to the short-wavelength, artificial blue light that’s emitted by these devices. If you're not quite ready to ditch your hour of social media scrolling before bed, switch your phone or iPad to 'night-time' mode which will temporarily give the screen a yellowy tinge for a set period until sunrise - this will reduce the blue light issue.
Lavender, bergamot, cedarwood, ylang ylang and vetiver are just some of the oils recommended to promote a relaxing nights sleep. Applying them topically can be one way to use them (always patch test and use a carrier oil to dilute). Using a diffuser or investing in soy wax candles can also be a lovely way to introduce a relaxing scent into your home.