We all know how frustrating lying in bed and not being able to fall asleep is – an active mind before bed can wreak havoc on our sleep quality, yet it can be a common re-occurrence without a proper evening routine.
The evening hours is when the body and mind unwind from the day’s activities. We can support this process by eliminating certain behaviours, while incorporating some helpful habits so that come bed time we effortlessly drift into dreamland.
To ensure my bedtime transition is smooth, I have adopted four key habits to support the process:
No food after 8pm
Eating a large meal late at night can disrupt our sleeping pattern. Trying to sleep while the stomach is digesting can cause discomfort – an article written in the New York Times by Physician Jamie A. Koufman outlines the dangers of eating late at night.
The main issue is proper digestion cannot occur when we are lying down, it affects the absorption of the nutrients in the food we eat – we also risk acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion if collapse on a couch, or bed after a large meal.
Food selection is also important, stick to eating lots of vegetables, low amounts of starchy carbohydrates, and foods that are high in healthy fats. Try to avoid excessive protein intake as this can sit heavy in the stomach.
Late night cravings?
Chose a fruit or vegetable. My personal favourites: Banana, celery, carrot, apple.
Key takeaway: Keep the stomach light to maximise the chances of good quality sleep.
No phones before bed
This is a crucial step in quieting the mind before sleep.
In the past I had the bad habit of flicking through social media on my phone before going to bed, this is a silent killer…
The LED used in phone screens emits a blue light that stimulates the brain, causing us to be more awake and alert – Excessive blue light exposure reduces melatonin production while we sleep.
Melatonin is a hormone made in the brain that controls the bodies sleeping patterns and wake-cycles; when we disrupt its production, 8 hours sleep can still leave us feeling like a zombie.
Key takeaway: Keep the bedroom “phone free” to ensure blue light exposure is minimised, and melatonin production is undisturbed.
We get magnesium from food sources such as spinach, rice and avocados – however, it can be difficult to consume enough to meet our daily requirement.
Most people are deficient in magnesium without realising.
Taking a magnesium supplement before bed can have a noticeable impact on sleep quality (as well as muscle recovery if you exercise). Stick to good quality sources of magnesium as some don’t absorb as well in the body. The forms I take are:
- Magnesium L-Threonate: been shown to increase cognitive function
- Magnesium Glycinate: glycine works as an amino acid and can help with sleep
Key takeaway: Taken before bed, magnesium can have a powerful effect on sleep quality and overall health. I highly recommend taking some if you don’t already.
Fill the mind with positive energy
We are what we think about all day long so we need to be more aware of the information we allow in. Evening news channels thrive off fear, adverting can manipulate us through desire, and reality TV pulls us into the collective unconscious, disguised as “entertainment”.
I try to be conscious of the content that is allowed into my mind throughout the day, particularly during the moments before bed.
By filling the mind with positivity we can re-program the sub-conscious mind while we sleep.
Metaphysical teacher Neville Goddard provides a description of the mechanisms behind the unconscious realm when we sleep:
“Sleep is the door through which the conscious, waking mind passes to be creatively joined to the subconscious. Sleep conceals the creative act while the objective world reveals it. In sleep man impresses the subconscious with his conception of himself”.
This merging of the conscious and sub-conscious mind is where dreams are formulated.
Our dreams can be a powerful indicator of our current state. With positive thinking we can re-shape our dreams and re-shape reality, find out how here.
So: how can we fill the mind with positivity?
For me personally, I like to read books, preferably spiritual text – and avoid anything that requires too much thinking as this can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Key takeaway: Stay away from social media, news, and advertisements before bed.
Never underestimate the power of a good evening routine, following these 4 habits will prepares us for a peaceful, pleasant slumber.
 Dean, Carolyn. The Magnesium Miracle, Ballantine Books, December 26, 2006.