According to the experts.
It can be stressful to lay awake at night, wondering when your mind will finally let go and allow you to drift off to sleep.
But experts say that by introducing the right sleep-promoting habits, you can train your body to drift off in around 20 minutes or less. Here’s how.
Be a creature of habit
One of the first things just about any baby sleep book will tell you is to create a regular bedtime ritual that you repeat with your baby each night. But what many adults don’t realise is that we continue to benefit from pre-sleep routines in adulthood, and that if we can set up some rituals to signal to our brain that it’s time wind down, we have a far greater chance of falling asleep easily.
“Allowing yourself even half an hour to wind down, relax and release the stress of the day can make a big difference between falling asleep easily and struggling to get to sleep,” says Sonya Byron, naturopath and Pukka Herbs Australia’s Herbal Expert.
“It’s important to respect our body and mind’s need to have that transition period between the day and the night.”
Melbourne wellness coach Lyndall Mitchell is a big subscriber of this theory, following the same steps each night before bed.
“My night-time ritual starts with journaling, then I do meditation to calm the mind and focus on breathing, then I apply some essential oils – this all signals to my body and mind that it’s time for sleep.”
Support your body clock
Our body’s circadian rhythm (body clock) is heavily influenced by light, so accessing sunlight first thing in the morning can actually help pave the way for easy sleep come evening.
“I always tell my clients that a good night’s sleep begins at the start of the day,” Byron explains.
“On waking, it’s great to open the blinds or curtains to expose yourself to natural light. An early morning walk in the sunshine and fresh air is another great addition to your daily routine – you’re exposing yourself to light and the exercise also reduces cortisol stress hormone levels, which can disturb our sleep.”
Avoiding caffeine after lunch and bright screens in the hour before bed can also help sleepiness set in.
“Our clock in our brains is sensitive to light and the light exposure that we receive late in the evening shifts our clocks to a later time, making it harder for us to fall asleep at the regular time that we want to fall asleep,” says Professor Shantha Rajaratnam, chair of the Sleep Health Foundation.
Make room for mindfulness
If you’re prone to racing thoughts as you lay in bed, introduce some meditation or deep breathing to help you slow down.
“Anything that helps you relax and unwind is beneficial – you might like a warm bath or shower, some gentle, restorative yoga or some mindfulness meditation or breath work to help you relax,” Byron says.
“It’s fantastic to implement a relaxing bedtime routine that helps you to manage any stress that you’ve experienced in the day.”
If meditation doesn’t take your fancy, even listening to relaxing music or calming playlists can be helpful.
“If you head to Pukka’s website, there’s a quiz that you can do called ‘Which sleep dosha are you?’, which gives you a specially curated playlist to promote a better’s night’s sleep by bringing the doshas back into balance,” Byron says.
Sip a sleep promoting tea
Adding a soothing cup of herbal tea, such as Pukka Night Time Berry, with lavender, chamomile, elderberry and limeflower, can be a wonderful addition to your evening wind-down ritual.
“Thirty percent of the blend is oat flowering tops, which are very soothing and calming to the nervous system – they can be very beneficial for people who are feeling quite depleted after stressful periods,” Byron says.
“There’s also camomile in there, which calms the mind, reduces anxiety and helps promote restful sleep.”
Byron says the added valerian root works as a sedative for the nervous system and can also help relax tense muscles.
“There’s also lavender, which is rich in essential oils to relieve stress, and lime flower, which is good for calming restlessness and encouraging a deep sleep,” she says.
“Liquorice provides delicious sweetness and is a soothing and nourishing tonic herb, which can be beneficial for people whose adrenal glands are depleted after a long-term period of stress. There’s tulsi in the blend as well, which is an Ayurvedic herb that helps the body better manage emotional stress.”
Ultimately, integrating a sleep-promoting tea into your bedtime routine is a simple step, too, that requires little effort – all you need to do is boil the kettle and settle in for a quiet cup of herbal goodness.
To discover more visit pukkaherbs.com/au/en