Two-thirds of Brits admit having trouble sleeping, but how many of us ever stop to ask ourselves why?
The answer could be as simple as not having a sleep routine, which we had as children, but seem to lose as soon as we become adults.
We speak to Lily Boulle, founder of sleep and wellness boutique Sleep Siren, to find out how to establish an effective sleep routine and wake up feeling refreshed.
She explains: ‘It’s about slowing down and turning into ourselves. Some people need more time to unwind than others. You could spend as little as 5-10 minutes, but it’s all about taking that time for yourself.’
Treat your bedtime routine as a date (with yourself)
Everyone is different and there is no one-size-fits-all. You need to find out what is right for you and your lifestyle.
Lily says: ‘It’s important to have at least a few minutes to yourself every night. If you have a child it can be shorter routine of 10 minutes, or a longer routine if it’s been a stressful day.
‘You don’t have to have a strict, set routine, but you should try and have consistency. Our motto at Sleep Siren is “Good days are built on great nights”.
‘Treat your bedtime routine as a date with yourself, and commit to a few times a week.’
Don’t spend too much time in bed
‘If you’re working in bed, watching Netflix in bed, or doing things like eating in bed, it tells our brain that it’s not just a place for sleep.
‘You have to work hard not to spend longer in bed awake than the time you are asleep,’ says Lily.
‘If you can’t sleep, get out of bed and do a quiet act for 20-30 minutes. Read a book, listen to a podcast or calming music – but make sure it’s not something you would do normally. Don’t start doing work or household chores. When you start to feel drowsy, that’s when you should head back to bed again.’
Lily’s personal sleep routine has gone down to 5-10 minutes as she has just had a baby.
She reveals: ‘ I put my pyjamas on, get in bed and give myself a five minute facial and scalp massage. And that’s pretty much it at the moment.’
Assess your sleep environment
Lily recommends turning your bedroom into as much of a sleep sanctuary as you can to maximise your snoozing potential.
She tells us: ‘The environment you sleep in is really important. You need to be comfortable in your bedroom. If you hate your room, shuffle it around. Or get a new bed, budget allowing.’
With environmental disturbances, such as sound, being the main reason people wake up during the night, it’s also a good idea to invest in a sleep mask and ear plugs if you need them.
What you wear for bed makes a difference
‘What we wear to bed can have a dramatic impact on the way we sleep. We feel better and more refreshed. The same goes for clean sheets,’ Lily explains.
Wearing cashmere socks can help us sleep more deeply and for longer. While natural fibres, such as silk or bamboo cotton, are breathable, helping reduce sweat on our bodies at night.
Lily adds: ‘Whether you go for luxury pyjamas for a more luxurious bedtime routine or sleep naked, you should wear what you feel comfortable in.’
Treat bedtime beauty as a luxury
Lily says at least part of your sleep routine should feel luxurious and decadent, as you are indulging your senses too.
‘Find beauty products you really look forward to using, and only use them at night so they feel like a treat.
‘You could also give yourself a facial massage with a jade restorer tool, which you can store in the fridge to give a nice cooling effect, particularly in the summer.
‘I use a jade comb through my hair every night, which helps to release tension from the scalp.’
Create a calming atmosphere before bedtime by lighting a candle or using a diffuser with calming essential oils in.
Lily says: ‘Lavender, chamomile, frankincense and sweet orange, which are all really good for sleep.
‘Find scents that really soothe your senses and calm your mind as part of your bedtime routine.
‘You can also spritz your pillow with pillow spray, which is a great thing to travel with.’
To help you unwind Lily suggests Yoga Nidra, which is a sleepy workout. Or body scans, where you lay in bed or on a yoga mat, start from your toes and slowly work your way up your body drawing attention to each individual part for 10-15 minutes.
‘By the end you feel much more grounded in yourself,’ Lily says.
Another thing to try is writing in a wellness journal or positivity planner as a mindfulness exercise.
Lily explains: ‘This could be a to-do list, affirmations, or writing down anything that is on your mind, and leaving your worries there before you go to sleep.’
‘Affirmations are a form of meditation, and these are last thing I would do as part of my sleep routine as I lie in bed,’ Lily says. ‘They are really beneficial for people who have anxiety or really stressful jobs.’
If you’re unsure what to say, Lily’s advice is just say something which resonates with you.
She explains: ‘It could be something as simple as “I’ve done the best I can do today, tomorrow is a new day, I’ll start afresh tomorrow.”
‘For self-confidence it could be “I am enough”. Or for insomnia “Tonight is a new night and I’m going to sleep well.” Repeat the same phrase 5-10 times.
‘There’s a lot of science behind it, but anything that makes you feel good is worth it in my book.’
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