How to relax before bed
Work. Eat. Sleep (badly). Repeat. You know that you need to step off life’s treadmill and properly relax during the evening, but ironically, it can seem like too much effort. After all, relaxing before bed takes time out of your day - and it doesn’t always seem to work.
But it doesn’t have to be a chore. Follow a few simple tips for making yourself sleepy before hitting the pillow, and feel all the benefits that follow.
1. Dress for success
Your bedtime routine starts with dressing for the occasion - literally. But don’t wait until it’s time to hit the pillow. You can help yourself by starting a long wind-down as soon as you get through the door, and all it takes is a two-minute wardrobe swap.
1. Ditch the restrictive workwear when you get through the door and slip into loungewear (even if it just means swapping trousers for leggings) to help you wind down.
2. Then, when it comes to bedtime, put your pyjamas on just before getting under the covers so your brain knows it’s time to get into night mode. Unless you prefer sleeping nude, which comes with its own benefits!
When we asked over a thousand people about their sleep lives, more than two thirds - 72%! - said being too warm stopped them getting a relaxing night's sleep. So dress yourself in breathable natural fibres like cotton, silk and bamboo (or nothing at all) and dress your bed with heat-regulating bedding and sheets.
2. Set the scene for better sleep
We’re written a whole article about setting up your bedroom environment for a restful night, but we’ll give you the highlights here. One of the best ways to make yourself sleepy is to calmly go through your room and get it ready for the night. We recommend doing this earlier in the evening, so when you finally step into your bedroom at night, it’s ready and waiting for you.
1. Turn off electronic devices and hide them away if possible.
2. Make sure your bed is made, so it looks inviting when you’re ready to sleep.
3. Turn down the lights - consider leaving a lamp on, preferably one with a warm glow, to set the mood for sleep.
4. Give your room a brief tidy, as having an uncluttered environment can make you feel less anxious.
5. Get everything ready for the night - that means pyjamas on the bed, water on the bedside table, and a good book to hand.
6. Pack everything you can for the morning as well. This includes laying clothes out and putting a packed lunch in the kitchen so you can sleep knowing that everything is taken care of.
The aim is to get everything ready now, so you don’t have anything to worry about when bedtime hits.
3. Choose foods that help you relax
Your relaxing bedtime routine starts long before you’re ready to sleep, and mealtimes are no exception.
1. For dinner, try and include some foods containing the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan - you’ll find some ideas in our recipes for a great night’s sleep. And if you're planning the next day's meals, our podcast with Dr Sara Kayat has some spot-on (and easy to incorporate) sleep-friendly nutrition tips.
2. Avoid very salty, sugary, or fatty foods, as these can all disrupt your sleep and leave you feeling less well-rested in the morning.
3. Plan to eat 2-3 hours before you go to sleep to avoid as much disruption as possible. Having said that, it’s important not to go to bed hungry - plan on eating a small snack, such as an apple with sugar-free peanut butter, if you know you’ll be hungry later on.
If you’re serious about optimising your bedtime routine, get into the habit of planning your meals and doing a big weekly shop if you have time. It means you won’t keep running to the supermarket after work, which could reduce your overall stress levels for the evening and stop you casting around for convenient (but less sleep-inducing) meals.
4. Choose relaxing evening activities
The best way to relax before bedtime is to treat yourself to some sleep-inducing activities. Here are our tried-and-tested favourites:
1. Have a warm shower or, better yet, a bath. A long bath actually helps your body’s core temperature drop, which is an important part of getting to sleep.
2. Watch a relaxing TV show - but not in your bedroom. Choose something that isn’t too bright, loud, or stimulating (classic sitcoms are a brilliant choice), and remember to turn your screen off for a while before you head to bed.
3. Read a book that you really enjoy. This isn’t the time for self-improvement - just choose something that you can really sink into.
4. Enjoy a warm, non-caffeinated drink, such as herbal tea, to help you relax and stay hydrated.
In short, do anything that you know helps you wind down - and avoid things that give you too much to think about.
5. Enjoy stretching, aromatherapy, and reflexology
You’ve set up your bedroom, you’ve enjoyed your dinner, and everything is set up for tomorrow morning. It’s time to turn off the TV, put your phone down, and get ready for some relaxing bedtime stretches.
1. Put your pyjamas on so you can slip into bed as soon as you’re finished, rather than rushing around and ‘waking yourself up’ again.
2. Choose some aromatherapy oils that make you feel calm, such as lavender or our special sleep spray, and spritz your pillow with them (sparingly).
3. Spend 5-10 minutes stretching, either on the floor or on your bed, to help loosen your tired muscles. Here are some of our favourite poses.
4. If you have particular trouble sleeping, you might also try five minutes of reflexology before you settle down for the night.
5. It’s time to settle down! As long as you’re not hungry or need to use the bathroom (if either of those two apply, now’s the time to sort them), slip into bed and lower the lights.
Bonus - making yourself sleepy with the perfect bedding
If you’re planning your bedtime routine, start with one of the biggest enemies of sleep - uncomfortable mattresses and pillows. By making sure your bed is comfortable, inviting, and designed to help you sleep well, you’ll feel all the benefits of your evening routine all the more.
We can help with that. Our hybrid mattress uses super-responsive, individually pocketed cone-shaped springs that move with you to create a perfectly contoured comfort zone. It means you can enjoy the soothing feeling of sinking in a little, while still remaining perfectly supported. If you keep your tension in your shoulders, you’ll also want to be able to adjust your pillow height and firmness to suit you. Our hybrid pillow can be customised to your preference - just unzip and add or remove a handful of our innovative Nanotubes. Now your pillow is ready to cradle your head to suit your sleeping style, all you need to do is relax - and maybe listen to a chilled out sleep story to finally drift off.