5 Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep Routine
9 minute read
Sleep is an amazing tool which helps us to relax, rejuvenate and revitalise – but it’s not always a given with our modern hectic lifestyles! Read on to discover the best natural solutions to improve your sleep.
Sleep Problems which are Keeping us Awake at Night
Getting enough sleep is crucial to overall health and wellness. It may seem like one of the easiest (and most enjoyable) things to tick off your list each day, but getting enough quality sleep each night can prove to be pretty tricky.
In the modern world there are many challenges to getting enough sleep which are also directly contributing to sleep problems. Here are just a few:
Stress & Anxiety - With constant distractions, pings and alerts - our bodies are in a constant state of "fight or flight", creating stress and anxiety. This affects our hormonal balance and confuses the body, which thinks that this pseudo-alertness means it must stay awake for longer - having a negative impact on sleep.
Busy Schedules - Sometimes it seems like there are not enough hours in the day and you don't get a chance to pause and think - until your head hits the pillow. With a busy schedule comes a busy mind and sadly that often means a whirring mind when you least would like it, at bedtime.
Devices & Screen Time - Using phones, laptops and tablets in the evening exposes our eyes to bright light and blue light which messes up our Circadian rhythm, making it harder for the body to know when it should be winding down and preparing for sleep.
Diet & Lifestyle - Diets high in caffeine, alcohol and sugary foods but low in nutritious foods keep us over-energised and undernourished. This has a double whammy impact on sleep, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Environment - Most of us live in a busy neighbourhood with traffic noises, streetlights and other people coming and going in the home. These are all environmental obstacles which can also interrupt sleep.
- Naps - If you experience sleep problems then tiredness can often back you into a corner during the day, almost forcing you to take a nap! This may seem like a quick fix for an instant boost of energy, but naps during the day can have a real impact on sleep during the night - leading to a vicious cycle of sleepiness and napping.
The Trouble with Sleep Medicines and Quick Fixes
As sleep problems have such an impact on the rest of our lives, quick fixes for bad sleep will always be on the radar of businesses whose goal it is to cash in on the issue.
There are many so-called sleep aids out there from melatonin supplements to sleep medicines, teas and tinctures. Natural sleep aids may be safe and effective but you should always do your research to make sure of this.
The good news is that even for those of us who dread the alarm clock and spend our nights in bed worrying about feeling tired the next day, there are many healthy habits we can use to try and naturally improve sleep.
Natural Ways to Improve Your Sleep: The Ultimate Bedtime Routine
We’ve created the ultimate collection of simple and easy daily lifestyle hacks you can use to naturally improve your sleep. Mix and match two from each category – or squeeze in as many as you possibly can – for the ultimate sleep-enhancing evening routine.
Step 1: The Best Foods to Eat Before Bed 🍫
What you eat and don’t eat in the evening can have a big influence on sleep latency (how fast you fall asleep) and sleep quality. Here’s what to include and what to avoid for the best night’s sleep.
The Best Foods to Enjoy for a Good Night's Sleep
Food and supplements can be useful tools when it comes to nurturing a good night's sleep. Nutrients found in food can help us to sleep better as well as reduce sleep problems.
✅ Coco Dream - We created our Coco Dream blend to bring you a healthy hot chocolate you can enjoy as part of your evening routine. It contains dual-extracted Reishi mushroom which helps to support your natural sleep cycle and promotes a deeper sleep. Drink one hour before bed to destress and drift off into a quality deep sleep.
✅ Almonds – Almonds are a source of Melatonin, a key hormone in the sleep-wake cycle which helps to signal to your internal body clock that you’re ready for sleep. They’re also high in magnesium which helps to process stress hormones like cortisol, helping us to calm down and relax. Try making your Coco Dream with almond milk for the ultimate sleep-enhancing brew!
✅ Walnuts – Walnuts contain Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA), an essential Omega-3 fat which is converted in the body to DHA. DHA is abundant in the brain and helps to stimulate the secretion of serotonin, a precursor to melatonin. Like almonds, walnuts are also high in magnesium too – so they make a great evening snack.
Foods to Avoid in the Evening to Improve Sleep
❌ Caffeine – Cutting down on your caffeine intake after midday has been shown to help improve sleep quality and duration. Our Shroom Coffee contains just half the caffeine of a regular cup of coffee, utilising organic Arabica Coffee along with Lion’s Mane, Cordyceps and Chaga mushrooms. It can help to keep you naturally energised and avoid the overstimulation which can keep you awake at night.
❌ Alcohol – It’s a common misconception that booze helps us to sleep. Whilst alcohol’s sedative effect does help us to relax and unwind, studies have shown that alcohol decreases sleep quality and increases episodes of sleep disruption - as well as leaving you feeling fatigued the morning after.
Step 2: Prepare for Tomorrow 📝
One of the main things which disrupts our sleep is thinking or worrying about the following day. The more you can prepare for tomorrow, the better you can sleep today. Try the following.
✅ Reflect on Your Day – Reflection can help you to learn from your experiences and accept them, before focusing on what you can do differently in future for better results. Daily reflection is a great tool to help get thoughts off your mind and create mental clarity before bed.
✅ To-Do List for Tomorrow – Writing down your plans for tomorrow or entering your schedule into a planning app is a great way to stop continuous thought cycles that can interfere with sleep. Psychologists have found that to-do lists lessen anxiety and help us to organise our thoughts – both of which are beneficial for a sound sleep.
✅ Plan Your Downtime – Rest and relaxation are vital for sleep but many of us don’t put much thought into planning them. As part of your evening routine, try to plan what you will do in your spare time tomorrow – whether it’s meeting a friend for a coffee, cooking a nice meal or simply choosing which movie you’ll watch – you’re more likely to do it if it’s on the agenda.
Step 3: Make Some Time for Self-Care 🛀
Self-care is so important to help you wind-down and relax in the evening. Looking after yourself is also satisfyingly productive and a great use of your spare time after work. Here are a couple of self-care suggestions.
✅ Hot Bubble Bath - Treat yourself to a long soak in the bath with bubbles, candles and relaxing music. Don’t forget to dim the lights too - this helps to promote the secretion of melatonin, signalling to the body that it’s time to rest. Having a warm bath (or shower) also helps to mirror the natural temperature drop which happens when we fall asleep. Studies have shown that a hot bath one or two hours before bedtime can help you to fall asleep over a third faster.
✅ Skin Care Regime - Remove any makeup and spend 10-15 minutes before bed looking after your skin. A skin care routine is a great way to incorporate self-care into your every day. You can try alternating skincare with a hair mask or body scrub, to keep things interesting and look after the rest of your body too.
✅ Physical Activity - Keeping active is a great way to use up energy as well as reduce levels of stress hormones which can keep us awake at night. Research has shown that evening exercise can improve sleep efficiency (how fast we fall asleep), as well as increasing sleep duration and sleep quality.
Step 4: Switch Off in the Evening 📚
When it comes to sleep, one of the biggest challenges we face in the modern world is technology. Not only are constant pings and alerts incredibly distracting but the screens we stare at all day work against our natural sleep mechanisms. Here’s some ideas to help you switch off from technology and reclaim your evenings.
✅ Do Not Disturb - When the working day is done it can be easy to succumb to the allure of the constant stroll, hitting the sheets at 9pm only to find yourself still scrolling until after midnight. To break the cycle, most smartphones have a ‘do not disturb’ function which allows you to silence calls, alerts and notifications. This can be done at the touch of a button and you can even schedule do not disturb to switch on at a certain time every night.
✅ Read a Book - Books are a great way to stay entertained in the evenings without over-stimulating your brain. They also avoid the sleep-disrupting light we get from too much screen time. One study found that just 6 minutes of reading before bed reduced stress levels by 68%, helping to prepare the body for a restful sleep.
✅ Listen to a Podcast - Podcasts are a great way to engage the brain enough to be entertained, but not so much that you can’t sleep well. There’s thousands of podcasts to choose from and finding the one for you can distract your mind from the stresses and recurrent thoughts from your day.
✅ Meditate - Relaxation techniques such as meditation help to relax your body and mind at the same time, slowing down your heart rate and blood pressure as well as encouraging deep breathing. Research has shown that meditation before bed has a direct impact on sleep-reliant hormones; reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increasing the secretion of pro-sleep melatonin.
Step 5: Make Your Bedroom a Sleep Haven 🕯️
Sleep hygiene is all about the healthy habits we should instil to create the best sleep environment. It’s amazing just how impactful your environment can be on rest and sleep. Here are some sleep haven essentials.
✅ Candles, Incense & Essential Oils - Perhaps surprisingly, our sense of smell is hardwired to the brain and can impact our emotions and memory. Scents from our environment are detected by cells inside the nose, which then send information to the brain via the olfactory nerve. Research has shown that aromas form candles, incense and essential oils can help us to relax, unwind and drift off to sleep easier - lavender, chamomile and jasmine are all good scents to try.
✅ Fresh Air - Having ventilation in the bedroom has been shown to improve sleep quality and reduce the number of awakenings during the night. Opening a window, even just a fraction, can help to purify the air and remove toxins.
✅ Comfortable Bedding - Sleep is so beneficial to our overall health and wellbeing, so it really is worthwhile investing in a good quality mattress, duvet and pillows. These are all key to getting the best night’s sleep possible. You can also pick bedding which best supports your usual sleeping position - so be sure to do your research before buying.
✅ Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary - Keeping your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep helps you to avoid distraction and resist the temptation to check your devices. Aim to leave your phone, laptop and tablet in another room and keep your bedroom a safe space for sleep-promoting things like books and candles instead.
Instilling healthy sleep habits in the evening can help you to fall asleep easier, get a deeper and more restorative sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and energised.
Try adding Coco Dream: The Chill Blend to your evening routine for a healthy hot cocoa. A blend of raw Cacao, Reishi Mushroom, Ashwagandha & Ceylon Cinnamon, Coco Dream is the perfect superfood hot-chocolate alternative to help manage stress and support a natural sleep.
- Dietary Sources and Bioactive Forms of Melatonin - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409706/
- Functional Foods for Sleep: Almonds - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4440346/
- Sleep Foundation: Alcohol & Sleep - https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/alcohol-and-sleep
- Psychology of the To Do List - https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/may/10/the-psychology-of-the-to-do-list-why-your-brain-loves-ordered-tasks
- Light, Dark & Melatonin - https://www.nature.com/articles/6702597
- The Science of Reading Before Bed for Sleep - https://uk.tempur.com/blog/reading-before-bed-good-idea.html
- Guided Meditation & Sleep - https://www.headspace.com/meditation/sleep
- Scents & Sensibility - https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/02/scents
- Is It Better to Sleep with Fresh Air? - https://blog.fitbit.com/sleep-with-fresh-air/