10pm: Have a protein + carb-rich snack
Eating this combo an hour before bedtime is the first step to a restful night:
“Your brain needs the protein to produce melatonin and serotonin, chemicals important for sleep, and the carbs help your body absorb the protein,” says Kathryn Lee, RN, PhD, professor and associate dean for research at the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing.
Try 1 tablespoon hummus in a mini whole-wheat pita.
About 45 minutes to one hour before bed, turn off the TV, power down your computer and put your iPad away, too. Surfing the internet and reading emails stimulates your nervous system, making it harder to unwind, plus the short-wave blue light emitted by all of these devices’ screens sends a message to your body that says, Hey! More daylight! Let’s stay up and get stuff done. If you like to read before bed, e-readers with “e-ink” displays are better options (they don’t give off blue light), but you can also adjust the settings on your tablet to minimise brightness.
10:30pm: Start your wind-down routine
Thirty minutes before bed is the ideal time to start moving into bedtime-mode.
“A lot of sleep disturbance happens because we don’t give our bodies a chance to transition from a fast-paced day,” says Diane Renz, a psychotherapist in Boulder, Colorado.
This can be as simple as taking off your makeup and washing your face under dim lights, but if you’ve been having trouble falling asleep, try a hot shower.
“How water raises your core body temperature, which increases muscle relaxation,” says Michael Breus, PhD, author of The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan.
11 p.m. Get into bed, breathe and stretch
“Taking a few deep breaths and doing a light 30-second stretch will help you relax once you’re under the sheets,” says Nancy Collop, MD, director of the Emory Sleep Center and a past president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
Try sitting up and reaching toward your toes or getting into child’s pose: kneel, sit back on your heels, then bend forward, resting your torso on your thighs. And don’t stress if it takes a little while to fall asleep — up to 20 minutes is normal.