Why embracing a bedtime routine can aid a restful sleep
Human beings are programmed to sleep well. After all, sleep is ingrained in our DNA and we spend a third of our lives doing it, so we should be good at it.
Yet approximately 23 million adults in the UK are struggling to sleep because our world has become more fast-paced, says neurophysiologist, sleep expert and author, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan. “The level of demand created by technology means that everything is moving too quickly,” she explains. That’s a big issue when sleep is so important for our physical and mental health.
Dedicating time to wind down
What we have to do is settle (or “de-excite”) our nervous systems, so that when we go to bed our bodies are ready to sleep. “Having a good routine before we go to bed is particularly important,” says Dr Ramlakhan. “That could involve tucking the children in, going through a skincare routine, spritzing your pillow with pillow mist… all of these things send a message to the subconscious that it’s time to prepare for rest.”
Establishing a night-time routine
Clare Robertson is Brand Manager at Feather & Down, creating award-winning products to help aid sleep. She believes that calming fragrances can be a powerful tool for people who have trouble sleeping. “Fragrance promotes wellbeing, especially lavender and chamomile which are known for being soothing,” she says. “When you spritz your pillow every night as part of your bedtime routine, you associate that smell with going to sleep.”
Dr Ramlakhan agrees, “We respond to sight, sound and smell so if our bedroom looks soothing, smells soothing and sounds soothing, it feels soothing. That sends a ‘wind down’ message to our nervous system and our body starts to relax.” This is called ‘neuroception’ – the way our subconscious senses that our environment is safe.
“Sleep restores us physically, mentally, and emotionally,” she says. “If we wind down properly before bed, we are more likely to have a good, deep sleep and wake up feeling mentally sharp.”