Bedtime rituals to help you sleep well

author

Joanna is a Nutrition & Regulatory Lead at Fonterra and holds a Masters of Dairy Science & Technology

Getting to sleep can be a real challenge for some people, especially for kids. Quality sleep is essential for good health and wellbeing. A bad night’s sleep not only impacts your mood during the day but long-term can increase your risk of chronic health conditions. So if you find you’re not getting enough sleep, read on for tips & tricks that might help you get a better night’s sleep!

Why is sleep so important?

No matter what your age, sleep is critical for your health and wellbeing, when we sleep well our body and mind get to rest and recover. For children and teenagers, sleep is especially important as they grow and develop. Not getting enough sleep enough can slow your reactions down which can increase the risk of accidents. Research has also linked lack of sleep to depression, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

How can I get a better night sleep?

When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, both duration and quality are important. The US National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep a night for adults up to age 65, and 7-8 hours for those over 65. Children need more sleep as they are growing. It is recommended that, school children (5-13 year olds) get 9-11 hours of sleep and for teenagers (14-17 year olds) 8-10 hours per night. Quality of sleep can be affected by a number of different factors, some listed below.

Relax and unwind. An hour before bedtime, try doing calming activities such as reading with a glass of warm milk, listening to relaxing music, or taking a bath or shower. Try limit TV or computer time before bed.

Below are some tips and tricks that may help you unwind and sleep better.

Lifestyle factors 

Daily exercise will help tire you out by the end of the day. Try to avoid intense workouts close to bedtime, as it can take a while to unwind and relax.

Alcohol, cigarettes & caffeine can decrease sleep quality. Try to avoid these and heavy meals close to bedtime. If you’re still hungry after dinner, try having a snack such as a banana or yoghurt instead.

Take a look at your bedroom, is it…

  • Cool? Your room shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. In summer, try opening your windows or keeping a cold face cloth handy if you don’t have air-conditioning. When it’s colder, make sure you’ve got blankets and socks at the ready!
  • Quiet? Noises can be distracting when you’re trying to fall asleep or can even wake you in the night. If you can’t reduce the noise, try ear plugs.
  • Dark? Light can also disrupt your sleep, whether this is from street lights or your phone! Try blackout curtains or an eye mask. Your phone light can be distracting so if you don’t use an eye mask try moving it away from your bed, turning on flight mode or turning it off completely! Some phones even have a do not disturb function that stop alerts for calls and notifications, but allow some calls in case of emergency! Check out your phone settings.

Create a bedtime ritual

  • Try stick to the same bedtime and wake time, even on weekends. A sleep routine helps keep your internal body clock (circadian rhythm) regulate which can help you fall asleep easier.
  • Try strategies such as deep breaths, meditation or yoga. There are plenty of apps such as Headspace as well as YouTube clips to help get you started.
  • Relax and unwind. An hour before bedtime, try doing calming activities such as reading with a glass of warm milk, listening to relaxing music, or taking a bath or shower. Try limit TV or computer time before bed.
  • If you’ve tried all these tips and you’re still concerned about your sleeping patterns or are struggling to stay awake during the day, please see your doctor or healthcare professional.