Stress Awareness Month: How To Build A Tranquil Bedtime Routine to Improve Your Sleep
Our bedtime routine can have a significant impact on our health and well-being. It's important to remember that how we spend our time in the lead-up to getting into bed can directly determine our quality of sleep. With Stress Awareness Month upon us, we wanted to take some time to consider new nightly rituals that we can implement to change up our evening routine and achieve a better night's sleep.
In this blog, we share some top tips to help you relieve stress before bed so that you can enjoy blissful sleep, night after night.
Why Are Bedtime Routines Important?
Creating a relaxing bedtime routine is much more than simply brushing our teeth and washing our face before bed - it shapes our entire evening. It can also impact how we’re likely to feel when we wake the following morning, as it can determine the quality of sleep that we achieve throughout the night.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see how a frantic evening routine can lead to a disrupted night’s sleep. In this day and age, many of us lead extremely busy lives and it can sometimes feel like, despite going 100mph, there somehow still aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s why it’s more important than ever to carve out time within our bedtime routine to slow down, de-stress, and unwind so that our bodies and minds feel relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep.
How Does Stress Affect Sleep?
There are many different ways in which stress affects our sleep. When we experience anxiety, our body releases a potent mixture of adrenaline and cortisol (also known as the stress hormone). This concoction can trigger stress in the body, leading to a knock-on effect on our quality of sleep. These side effects can include muscle tension in the body, increased heart rate and blood pressure, and even low mood due to the ‘comedown’ experience once increased adrenaline levels return to normal.
According to The Sleep Foundation, elevated stress levels have been proven to decrease the duration of each sleep stage, including deep sleep, and REM sleep - both of which are integral to restful sleep.
If you’re experiencing high levels of stress that are affecting your day-to-day life, there is lots of help and advice available to support you via NHS - Get Help With Stress. If your stress is manageable but simply causing havoc with your sleep schedule, discover our top tips below to help with this.
5 Ways to Reduce Stress and Sleep Better
To help you on your mission towards a stressless night’s sleep, we’ve gathered 5 top tips to help you to de-stress and relax before catching those all-important zzzs.
1. Transform your bedroom into a spa-like sanctuary
Ensuring your surroundings promote relaxation is vital when it comes to creating a tranquil environment in your bedroom. This can be done through the use of calming colours, freshly laundered sheets and relaxing fragrances, such as candles or diffusers to evoke the senses.
2. Opt for cosy, soft furnishings
Bringing softness into your bedroom is easily achieved by opting for textures that appeal to you the most. When it comes to your choice of bed linen, opting for breathable fabrics, such as cotton, can help to improve your quality of sleep. Once you’ve got your new bedding in place, complete your ensemble with a soft, textured throw and some matching cushions for the ultimate snuggly set-up.
3. Create a relaxing ambience with low-lit lamps
Reducing the brightness in our space in the hours before bedtime can significantly improve our sleep quality. This is due to darkness being a trigger for our bodies to release sleep hormones, known as melatonin, signalling that it’s time to prepare for rest. That’s why introducing low-lit lighting can instantly create a more relaxing ambience that will allow us to unwind and become tired as bedtime draws closer. With this in mind, why not turn out the big light and pop on a bedside lamp instead? Or light a couple of candles to create a warm, ambient glow.
4. Indulge in a relaxing bubble bath
Muscle tension is one of the leading contributing factors to restless sleep. If you’re experiencing tension in your body, taking a hot bubble bath can help to relieve this. The heat from the hot water can instantly ease any aches and pains, leaving you feeling much more relaxed by the time you climb into bed. Ensure that your bathtime is as tranquil as possible by investing in some soft, fluffy bath towels and a beautiful bath mat to tie your relaxing bathroom ensemble together.
5. Reduce screen time before bed
It’s no secret that screen time can hinder our sleep cycle. This is due to both the blue-light rays and device brightness delaying our body's release of sleep hormones which are required ahead of restful sleep. According to a recent health report on the impact of screens on our sleep, “Studies show two or more hours of screen time in the evening can seriously disrupt the melatonin surge needed to fall asleep. It is advised to turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before sleep, at a minimum.”
With this in mind, it’s a good idea to put down your devices and find other ways to unwind in the immediate hours leading up to sleep. Curling up with a good book is a great evening activity to promote tiredness. Alternatively, listening to relaxing music or an audiobook can also be good options too, as these don’t involve screen time but still allow your mind to drift off as you become sleepy.
How to Create A More Mindful Bedtime Routine
The trick to any successful bedtime routine is to find what works best for you. We’ve collated our top tips that you can incorporate into your new regime, to help you find nighttime rituals that suit you the most.
Pre-Set Your Alarm Clock
For many of us, ensuring we get up on time every day is left down to our alarm clocks. We’ve all experienced that early morning panic when our alarm hasn’t gone off and we’re suddenly late for the day ahead. Whether you’re a serial snoozer or you’re typically up and out of bed by the first ring, there’s a lot of subconscious pressure riding on our alarm clocks. With this in mind, pre-setting your alarm so that it automatically comes on at the same time each morning means you don’t have any late-night panic that you might have forgotten to set it.
In addition to this, tailoring the sound of your alarm clock is another great tip for promoting healthier sleep-wake patterns. Our bodies adapt better when they wake slowly, from a lighter stage of sleep, so choosing a tranquil alarm tone which starts quieter and gradually gets louder could hugely improve your wakefulness in the morning.
Decide On Your Bedtime Rituals
Our evening rituals will vary from person to person. Whatever the timings of your evening, decide on your set regime that you wish to stick to each night.
Here is a list of helpful evening rituals that you can consider implementing into your bedtime routine:
- Meal prep
- Dedicated screen time
- Listening to music / a podcast / an audiobook
- Skincare regime
- Taking a bath or shower
- Lowering your lights / lighting a candle
- Making a hot drink
- Evening meditation
Set Yourself A Realistic Bedtime
Setting yourself a bedtime that you can stick to is vital for your evening routine. Consistency is key, so ensuring this is realistic with your current lifestyle is important. While one person may return from late shifts after midnight, another may rise at 5am each morning. It’s important not to compare your evening routine to other people’s, and instead create one which aligns with your unique lifestyle.
The recommended amount of sleep for adults is between 7-9 hours, so as long as you’re allowing yourself enough time for rejuvenating sleep, the rest is up to you. For parents with young children, this may not always be possible, but just remember the earlier you can climb into bed the more blissful zzzs you’ll be able to indulge in - so be sure to put off any late-night tasks that can wait until the morning and prioritise your rest instead!
Make Your Bed Each MorningWhen it comes to routine, it’s important to start the day as you mean to go on. Making your bed as soon as you get up allows you to kickstart your early morning productivity which sets the tone for the rest of your day. It also means you’ll be greeted by a beautifully dressed bed when you come home each evening. Recent psychology research has revealed that a messy room can impact anxiety levels, sleep and our ability to focus. A simple habit of making your bed can help to eliminate these potential stressors, encouraging a more harmonious day ahead.
For more tips on improving your sleep quality, take a look at our recent blog, How To Have The Best Night’s Sleep According To Our Dream Expert or browse our Inspiration page for further tricks and trends on transforming your bedroom into a tranquil space.