Build a wind down routine

Image of Professor Colin Espie
by Professor Colin Espie

In order to prepare our bodies and brains for sleep we need to give ourselves time before bed to unwind and relax. Too often we're rushing around or checking emails right up until we collapse into bed, keeping ourselves energized and alert…so it should be no surprise if we find it difficult to get to sleep.

The answer is to consciously set aside time each evening to relax before heading to bed, and plan a wind down routine to follow.

First, put aside time before your planned bedtime for winding down. Ideally this would be 1 – 2 hours, but put aside what you think is feasible for you. It's important to give this time the same status as your other commitments, so block it out in your calendar or diary.

Next, pick out activities that you enjoy, and that are relaxing in a passive way. Reading, going for a stroll or listening to music would all fit the bill. Avoid activities that are likely to leave you pumped up – strenuous exercise or watching a gripping movie for example.

Finally, make the preparations necessary for your nightly “me time” as soon as you get up each morning. Get your favorite book out, cue up your relaxation playlist, or whatever your equivalent is. Having these elements ready and available will make it easier for you start your wind down routine. And remember this is well-earned time for you, so it should be something you look forward to!

Next: Get up if you can't sleep

Read now