I have read countless articles claiming to offer plenty of tips and tricks for the best night’s sleep: “Don’t eat for two to three hours before bed”, “Leave your phone in another room”, “Make sure your room is exactly 19 degrees C”(um, how?), “Use this miraculous pillow spray”… And while I’m lying awake at 3am contemplating everything from my mammoth to-do list to whether or not I am, in fact, the modern-day Princess and the Pea, I have felt let down by all of them.
So, I decided that it was time to stop listening to what everyone else suggested and discover what worked for me and my body. Here’s how it went:
10pm Switch-Off Rule
First up, I decided not to give up my phone nor my bedtime Netflix viewing, but rather just to limit the binge. Come 10pm, I switched from screen to book. (Paperback, that is.) I enjoy jumping into bed to watch series at night, and I can’t help but scroll through Instagram while I’m doing so.
Removing both of these habits completely wasn’t realistic for me, but compromising and adding the extra activity of reading was a lot more achievable as a recurring routine. I really do feel like it helped me fall asleep faster – whether that’s down to having something else to occupy my mind or relieving my eyes of blue light, I’m not sure. The point is, it worked.
But First, Rooibos
Another “handy” tip every health blog seems to recommend? No coffee after 3pm. I was religious about this, yet I’d still find myself wide awake until the wee hours of the morning. I realised that my body was obviously a lot more sensitive to caffeine, so I changed my habits and drank my one-cuppa-a-day before 12pm. Any hot drink after that was a giant mug of rooibos tea (no milk, no sugar please!), which is packed with antioxidants, aids with digestions and – here’s the kicker – is completely caffeine-free.
I’ve always been a morning exerciser. I find my energy levels way flatter in the evening and motivating myself to get to gym at that time much harder. But this was before I sat in an office, looking at a computer screen for eight hours every day. Hitting the gym after work now serves as a bit of a release. Come 4pm in the office, I can feel myself craving it. Going in the evening also has the added advantage of allowing an extra 10 minutes for the sauna as I’m not scrambling out (wet hair and all) to make it to work on time.
I haven’t transformed from the Princess and the Pea to Sleeping Beauty just yet, but these minor changes have definitely helped me sleep significantly better. I guess the important lesson for me was to find a routine that not only worked for me, but was realistic enough for me to stick to so that it could actually become a routine.