We are all governed by circadian rhythms...
Circadian rhythm comes from the Latin circa diem or ‘around a day’ and fixing a wake-up time is the best change you can make to your sleep. The brain starts waking up 90 minutes before you wake up, preparing the body to rise at its best, so try to avoid hitting that snooze button!
Humans were built to sleep when it is dark and to be awake when there is light. The lightbulb invention created a 24-hour society but we really need to learn to switch off again. A good tip is to gradually decrease the lighting until bedtime so your body adjusts. Light some candles, ideally with soy or beeswax candles. Most modern candles are made from paraffin wax which is made from petroleum as a by-product of making petrol.
Your evening meal is also key
Cut down on spicy, fatty foods, alcohol and caffeine, but remember that turkey, eggs, fish and nuts are rich in amino acid tryptophan which can make you drowsy, especially eaten with carbs.
Say night-night to blue light
Blue light from screens disrupting melatonin is a relatively new finding, but it doesn’t change age-old advice — that being cognitively aroused before bed is the enemy of sleep.
Any device, including TV or radio, is bad because it excites the mind, even if you’re just watching cat videos. The key is to choose content carefully and avoid bringing worry, stress or unnecessary FOMO – via Instagram for instance – into the bedroom.
A clutter-free space is also essential
In a room that feels cluttered, your mind goes to work on a subliminal level, taking inventory of things that need fixing, clearing or cleaning and making you feel restless. When you declutter, your mind is at ease.
Take a warm bath 1 - 2 hours before bed
This induces sleep because, at night, body temperature drops slightly, signalling to our bodies to start producing melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. Having a warm bath raises our body temperature artificially before allowing it to drop again, as you adjust to the cooler environment of the bedroom.
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(Interestingly, as an aside, restoring the body’s natural temperature rhythm can also help ease the symptoms of depression, according to a recent study at the University of Freiburg in Germany.)