Six Steps to a Calm Bedtime Routine

At Coast Capture Air we are all about the sea; both the scent and the sound.

Many of our customers have told us they enjoy inhaling their breath of fresh coastal sea air as a complement their morning and bedtime routines.  This revelation, along with my nightly star-gazing and wave watching on the terrace got me thinking about other ways to relax and unwind at the end of the day.  

I was further intrigued to read a study I recently found in a pile of old newspapers, commissioned by the National Trust, the study found that people sleep on average for 47 minutes longer the night after a decent seaside hike, while those who go for an inland walk of a similar length sleep only for an additional 12 minutes. Environmental Psychologist, Eleanor Ratcliffe stated that “It was clear there is something really special about the coast that can allow people to boost their mood, relax and sleep.” (Steven Morris, Guardian, 2015).

Of course, if you have childcare arrangements to consider, as we know all too well, taking some time to be by yourself, to decelerate and calm your mind just before bedtime can be difficult but is one of the kindest and most helpful routines one can establish for oneself.

With so many benefits to encouraging a restful sleep pattern, these six steps are worth considering.

It goes without saying that electronic equipment, laptops, smart phones and even the television does not assist us in promoting restful slumber, so make sure an hour or so before bedtime, these goodies are put away for the night. Try not to use your smart phone as an alarm clock, as the light emitted, even with the low light night screen, can hamper your efforts.

Practice Mindfulness, Meditation or just Relaxation

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With the electronic equipment in another room, attempt your relaxation, mindfulness or of this is too much to start with, just sit quietly and take the time to listen to your breath, in and out, slowly, deliberately and completely. After a few minutes concentrating on your breath, try to bring your thoughts back to yourself and your physical body, whether you are sitting or lying, how do you feel from your toes all the way up to your scalp.

Try some of these wonderful relaxation techniques. http://www.mghpcs.org/eed_portal/Documents/Pain/common-types-relaxation-techniques.pdf

Reading

While many people advocate keeping the bedroom for sleep and intimacy alone, reading a few chapters of a good book before bedtime can do little harm. Indeed, some people suggest this actually helps them conjure up sleep.  There is a good compromise in taking oneself to another quiet space, and continuing to read accompanied by a warm, relaxing drink until you feel sleepy.

This leads me onto another sleep inducing suggestion;

Have a warm caffeine-free drink

My bedtime routine is not complete without a warm herbal cup of tea.  My personal favourites are the Pukka brand tea infusions, aptly named ‘Relax’; soothing organic chamomile, fennel and marshmallow root. Or their ‘After Dinner’ blend of sweet fennel, chicory and cardamom. Of course, if your favourite brew is a normal ‘cuppa', make sure it’s a decaf brew to support your aim of night time relaxation.

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Write down your worries or reminders for the next day

Think calming thoughts coupled with gentle body stretches

Rather like worrying about rising early and ultimately sleeping poorly, it is common to worry about all those things we must do tomorrow. Trying to remember many chores on a mental to-do list can obviously aggravate rather than relax the mind. Keeping a paper and pencil on your nightstand can be a useful trick for jotting down something that you remember you must do tomorrow, just before you plan to ‘drop off’.  By freeing your mind of chores and reminders, you are free to think calming thoughts coupled with gentle body stretches.  

Attempt to lower your body temperature

I have noticed that on these warm nights, a cooling shower before my bedtime routine helps me to feel drowsy rather than refreshed. Using pure lavender oil (known for soporific qualities, plus easing anxiety as well as insomnia) in a wash or as a pillow spray is also beneficial.

I try to keep my bedroom temperature between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius, although even in the winter months I have been known to keep a small window open to allow the fresh coastal air to blow through. This fresh coastal breeze alleviates waking up ‘stuffy’ and congested.

It is all a matter of preference but paying attention to the temperature in your bedroom and with your body, can have a real impact to a restful night’s slumber.

Practice Gratefulness

I have often heard it said that the most beautiful way to end the day is with a grateful heart.

'Recall three good things that happened to you during the day that is now ending'

Ending the day on a positive note, no matter how stressful or chaotic your day has been can be extremely beneficial to the mind and the heart.  A nice, simple way to communicate with your partner or family, is to take it in turns to recall three good things that happened to you during the day that is now ending. It doesn't matter if they seem trivial or insignificant, just small occurrences that left you with a good feeling.   

This small exercise reminds us to appreciate the little things in life, especially all those things we often take for granted

My family and friends did this exercise recently, sitting in our beautiful English cottage garden after a garden party late into the night.  Hearing each person take it in turn to recall three positive things, conjured up the most wonderful feelings and made us all realise our good fortune.  I am sure that evening will be remembered for a long time to come.  

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The positive things can be as simple as being grateful for the moment, for the sunshine, especially here in Great Britain with the glorious summer weather we are currently experiencing.  I am grateful for my parents who are both in their 80’s and apart from the normal aches and pains, are doing well healthwise.

I’m also grateful for my friends. The kindness I receive from people, acknowledging this and returning the same to them whenever possible. I can assure you that this exercise is not only heart-warming but once you get started, the small grateful things you notice keep on coming. It is therefore difficult to limit to just the three positives!

This exercise, practiced regularly not only helps us to remember our experiences but to seek for the positives, sometimes out of the negatives that can happen throughout our lives.  Above all, this small exercise reminds us to appreciate the little things in life, especially all those things we often take for granted.  

This takes me back to where I started, on the terrace with my husband on a warm summer evening listening to the waves lap on the sand in front of our beautiful seaside home, the salty air mixing with the aroma of the garden flowers.

I will be sure to list the gratitude I feel for these wonderful moments when I practice my bedtime routine tonight.

 

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Sources:

The Guardian - https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/sep/17/a-stroll-by-the-sea-will-help-you-sleep-longer-study-finds

Ethan Green - https://www.nosleeplessnights.com/sleep-hygiene/bedtime-routine-for-adults/

http://www.mghpcs.org/eed_portal/Documents/Pain/common-types-relaxation-techniques.pdf

 

 

Jaime Lawson