Creating a pre-bed time routine is critical, it can help to relax you and enable you to stop your mind racing before sleep.
Whilst it will vary for everyone I often start preparing for bed around 9pm, a full two hours before I am due to be asleep.
“Routine is liberating – it makes you feel in control.”
– Carol Shields, The Republic of Love
Here are some tips:
Bathe early: If having a bath or shower relaxes you then get it done early, at least two hours before bed, it gives you chance to dry fully, return to a comfortable temperature and helps start the relaxing pre-bed routine. Listening to music whilst in the bath can help avoid you concentrating on other problems or thoughts. Try and arrange with family members to have peace and quiet during your bath time – it should be just you, and a calming environment. Keep lights low, and use candle light if your bathroom lights are too bright to allow you to relax.
Meditate: You don’t need to go full on zen here, but use at least ten minutes before bed to sit quietly and think about some of the positive aspects of your life. For people with depression this can often be hard, and thought processes can often turn bad even when they start well – just try and focus on the positive things and look forward to what tomorrow will bring. If you find yourself drifting towards negative thoughts just think “Now is not the time for that.” And start a new thought process focusing on something else.
Switch off: Turning off your electronics can be one of the single biggest improvements to your sleep pattern for various reasons. Firstly devices such as televisions, music players, audiobooks, radios etc. require you to pay attention, whether it’s watching a TV show or listening to audio your brain is engaged and processing this new information. Secondly, the light from these devices can also stimulate your mind and confuse the circadian rhythms. Another factor which is especially important with mobile phones is notifications, these can interrupt and disturb your sleep pattern so having your phone off silent should only be done if it’s essential.
In a world with constant updates and limitless information, staying away from things like news feeds, Facebook updates and twitter notifications can be difficult – but switching your mind off before bed is essential and this barrage of information can be incredibly counterproductive when trying to get a restful night’s sleep.
Same Time: Get into bed the same time every night, ideally 20-30 minutes before your ideal “asleep” time. This gives you plenty of time to get comfortable, get to the right temperature and hopefully drift asleep naturally without worrying too much about hitting the exact time.
Avoid Distractions: Apart from making sure you don’t watch TV in bed, try to ensure everyone else in the home keeps theirs at a reasonable volume. Listening to others in the house is extremely distracting when trying to drift off to sleep so working with family members and making them aware of your routine is important.