6 things you should do in the half-hour before you go to bed to be sure of a good night's sleep

Plan for tomorrow, take a shower and put down those gadgets! Why establishing a bedtime routine could be the key to getting a good night’s sleep.

Last updated: 16 March 2018 - 7.16am

We know we’re not getting enough sleep as a nation – the bags under our eyes and constant complaining of being nothing but tired give that away.

That evidence is backed up by the results of a Nytol Sleep Study, which revealed that 50% of adults still aren’t getting enough sleep at night.

[Read more: 7 ways to improve the quality of your sleep]

We’ll try anything for a good night’s sleep but it might not have to be as advanced as you might think. It could be as simple as setting a good bedtime routine.

Sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley comments: “You cannot find sleep, you have to let sleep find you. You have to put your body and brain in the correct state where sleep can easily occur. This is a quiet mind and a relaxed body. Your preparation for bed should start approximately 30 minutes before your intended lights out time.”

Dr Neil Stanley shares the six things you should do in the 30 minutes before bed to help you re-establish a good sleep routine:

30 minutes before bed: Use that last half hour to prepare for sleep and start by completing any final tasks for the day. Send that last email, pay that gas bill you’ve been meaning to pay and try and put aside any cares and concerns you have.  Write down your worries and your to do list for tomorrow.

25 minutes before bed: Reduce your exposure to blue light; blue light is known to suppress the release of melatonin, which is the body’s signal that it is time for sleep - so using screens before bed will disrupt sleep. Research shows that nearly one in five of us check social media before going to bed so try and put your phone, laptop or tablet down, and if you need to use your phone for your morning alarm then turn it over or pop it in your bedside drawer to avoid being disturbed. However, it is not just blue light that can affect our sleep, it has been shown that even ‘paper white’ screens can also be disturbing, so avoid light levels above a normal lightbulb.

20 minutes before bed: Brush your teeth and remove your make-up well in advance of getting in to bed, so that you are not left feeling alert at the time you want to be relaxing into bed. This can also act as a cue that the body should be preparing itself for sleep.

[Read more: Eating these foods could help you sleep better]

15 minutes before bed: Take a five-minute hot shower. Not only is this relaxing, but by heating the periphery of our body it actually helps us cool down. This is important because in order to get good sleep we need to lose about 1C of body temperature.

10 minutes before bed: Finish anything you need to do before getting into bed, like visiting the bathroom so that you’re not having to get in and out of bed to run to the toilet. 42% of people say they don’t get enough sleep because they need the toilet in the night so make this one of the last things you do before bed.

5 minutes before bed: Bed means sleep and at the end of the 30 minutes it is time for bed – no more chatting or scrolling through social media. The bed should be for sleeping only and so when you get into it, it should be with the sole purpose of going to sleep and nothing else.

Dr Neil Stanley does not endorse any brands.

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