Minimise light in the evenings
For the same reasons, it’s important to keep light to a minimum as the day comes to an end. Once the sun has set, it’s best to only use the lights that you need. If you have dimmer switches, turning the lights down is ideal. If not, use lamps instead of overhead lights whenever you can.
This goes for screens as well. Most electronic devices give off a bright ‘blue’ light that can tell your brain that it’s still daytime. This stops you from producing melatonin, the main brain chemical that induces sleep. If you have to use a screen in the evenings, download a blue-light blocking app or program like f.lux or Twilight.
Keep caffeine for the morning
A cup of coffee or a mug of tea can be part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. But caffeine can be a disturbance for sleep, depending on when you consume it. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, increases stress hormone levels and keeps the body alert.
That’s why it’s recommended to have a ‘caffeine curfew’ of 2pm or earlier. Caffeine has a half-life of around 5-6 hours. That means that if you have a double shot at 12pm, you will still have a single shot’s worth of caffeine in your blood at 5 or 6pm. Some people who are sensitive to caffeine may find consuming it any time after lunchtime can make it hard to sleep.
Keep your room cool and dark
Humans weren’t designed to sleep in temperature-controlled rooms with chargers and street lamps shining through the window. The best way to set up your bedroom for rest is to think of it as a cave – cool, dark and calming.
A temperature between 16-19 degrees Celcius is thought to be the best range for optimal sleep. Make sure your curtains are thick enough to block out any light from the street, or invest in blackout curtains. When it comes to light from plugs, either switch them off or cover the light up.
Create a wind-down routine
One of the best ways to support sleep is to set up a wind-down routine. This can help you to let go of the stress of the day and signal to your body that it’s rest time. Some ideas for your routine include:
- Having a shower or bath
- Making a cup of calming herbal tea
- Yoga or stretching
- Diffusing some calming essential oils
- Switching off electronic devices
By using the same routine each night, you can set yourself up for a deep, healing sleep.