5 Steps To Improve the Quality of Your Sleep

Without sleep, we can find day-to-day tasks very difficult. As I'm sure we all know from experience, a lack of sleep can massively affect our concentration, our energy levels and motivation. In today's post, I'm sharing a 'bedtime routine', made up of five key steps, that can help you to improve your sleep, enabling you to get a better nights' kip that will leave you feeling more refreshed in the morning. Keep in mind that this is something I like to practice as part of my typical evening routine to improve my sleep and it might not be perfect for everybody or for every situation. So tailor it to your lifestyle and adapt it to your taste!

1. Start to slow down after dinner

We're starting just after dinner. Dinnertime can vary in our house. Sometimes my boyfriend arrives home from work late - this is especially true in harvest time - and I might be engrossed in my own work. I sometimes try to look for inspiration for what to cook as well, which can take a little longer. For the most part, we try to eat between 6 and 7 pm. It's the perfect time between being ravenous after a long day, and already feeling empty at bedtime. Once dinner is over, I clean the kitchen, because there is nothing worse than waking up to a messy kitchen. If you read here frequently, you will know my distaste for a messy kitchen in the morning well. It's sort of a metaphor for my mental and emotional state. A tidy kitchen reflects a tidy mind, a clean slate ready to start again tomorrow. Starting to slow down from teatime onwards is a good place to start because winding down for the evening can help us to relieve ourselves of the stresses today gave us.

2. No caffeine after a 'certain time'

This one has been left open for your own judgement since not everybody drinks coffee. I like it, but avoid it and drink tea when I fancy a hot drink instead. I think tea settles the stomach and is an inviting accessory to relaxing in front of the box, so I will occasionally have one after dinner. We all know why we should choose decaf instead of caffeinated coffee, but regardless of what you drink, choose the time that works for you so you are not up all night!

3. Take a bath

I love an invigorating shower in the morning but am a sucker for a hot bath at nighttime (though not too hot!). It's a chance to escape and spend some time engaging in some well-earned self-care. Occasionally, if I have any, I might use a rather luxurious and therapeutic bath bomb, but on a typical basis, I use something like Radox's bath soaks. At a pound a bottle you get excellent value for money. I like bubbles, lots of bubbles, and anything that smells natural or contains natural ingredients. I'd love to try to find more natural bath time products, so if you can recommend any, please do let me know! A good idea is to use something with lavender or chamomile, to help you to relax. I also enjoy juniper and sage in a bath. In the words of my boyfriend, "Bath time is sacred." So make the most of it!

4. Include essential oils in your evening routine

If you haven't already used essential oils in your bath, there are other ways you can use essential oils to assist you in winding down. I use a diffuser that I plug into the wall, fill with water and a concoction of relaxing and soothing oils, and watch the steam billow from the top majestically. Many diffusers will illuminate in colours and transition seamlessly from one shade to the next, creating a calming visual to watch as you drift off to sleep. As a sidetone, I likewise look forward to switching on a little lava lamp as soon as it gets dark. In the same way, watching the 'lava' manoeuvre lazily inside the glass is ultra soothing. I wrote a post a little while back that you can look back on, all about

6 great essential oils for a good nights' sleep

, where you can see which ones I would recommend.

5. 'Switch off' or read until you ready to sleep!

It is common knowledge that the harsh LED screens of our digital devices can disrupt our ability to get off to sleep. The good news is that technology these days has advanced so that our phones can automatically dim, or change shade slightly, to reduce the effects of the bright screens on our sleep pattern. At this point, you can take advantage of this, especially if you don't like to read before bed. When I want to get off to sleep easily, I put on a long YouTube video and let it play until it times out. I'm usually asleep before a thirty-minute video is finished! Just try to get used to darkening your screen a little more than usual, so that you don't become dazzled into wide-awakeness just when you want to rest. Otherwise, reading is a brilliant idea. Reading does require a fair bit of effort, and sometimes I don't even manage to get far in a chapter at all before I decide I can't be bothered and I should switch the lights out.

A bonus tip...

Upon the topic of sleep quality, especially on nights where stress or anxiety might be particularly prevalent, I thought I'd share a little extra tip I was once given by a relative. If you've tried absolutely everything, from mediation to counting sheep, simply get up. Get up, no matter what the time is, and go about a few activities. You could go and clean something, or watch a bit of telly. Just do the things you need to be awake for. Maybe even do something that you were worried about, especially if was keeping you awake not doing it. This may help your body to feel more at ease or tired, and kick in the desire to sleep.

Since sleep is so important to our ability to function, I think we should really appreciate it, and milk the preparations for sleep as best as we can! I hope you get a good nights' rest tonight and let me know if you have more recommendations!