Night Time Rituals

With busy, modern living, packed diaries and technology that enables us to be 'plugged in' 24/7, it's little wonder we can sometimes struggle to head off to sleep.

But, as sleep expert Dr Karyn O'Keeffe explains, having a regular bedtime routine is a great way to improve your quality of sleep.  A consistent routine tells your brain and body it’s time for sleep, making it easier to drift off when you want to.

Dr O'Keeffe's tips for establishing a good night-time ritual include:

1. Having a regular bedtime

Having a regular bedtime is an important first step in creating a regular bedtime routine.  A consistent bedtime helps you to get off to sleep, ensuring you get enough rest for the following day.  Aim for a bedtime that will allow you to get 7-9 hours’ sleep each night.

2. Relaxation

It's also important to allow yourself time to unwind from the day's activities before sleeping. Studies have shown that when you don't allow this process to occur, it can be harder to fall asleep, sleep can be shorter and we can wake feeling unrefreshed.

3. Having a bath or shower

Some studies have shown that if you have a bath or shower before bed, it can help with the process of getting off to sleep, so long as you allow yourself enough time to cool off afterwards.  Falling asleep requires a drop in core body temperature and cooling down in the evening sends a signal that it's time to sleep.

4. Turning off devices with bright screens

Devices with bright screens interfere with your circadian body clock by telling you it's daytime rather than time for sleep.  When you use these devices in the evening, it can shift the timing of your circadian body clock later, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.

5. Influencing your circadian rhythm at the start of the day

Researchers, including Nobel Prize winning scientists Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young, have discovered some of the inner workings of the circadian body clock.  Their work paved the way for other researchers who have found ways in which we can influence the body clock for better sleep. And one of the most effective ways to create a regular routine is to expose yourself to bright light when you wake up in the morning - so be sure to throw the curtains open wide!

night-time rituals with Libby Matthews

Q&A with Libby Matthews

One person who knows the importance of a regular night-time routine is Libby Matthews, one half of popular health guru enterprise Julia & Libby.  As a busy cookbook author and mum to baby daughter Maxwell, Libby understands the need for good quality sleep, given its role in health and wellbeing.

1. Do you have a night-time ritual that helps you to relax before you go to bed?

Every night before bed I remove my make-up, cleanse my face, apply night cream, have a warm shower and drink some peppermint tea. This helps to relax and calm my mind after a busy day.

2. What one thing do you have to do before you climb into bed that helps you with your sleep?

I always check on my daughter in her cot to make sure she's tucked in and warm.

3. Have you made any recent changes to your night-time ritual to help you get a better night’s rest?

Not having my nine-month-old baby in my bed. Sleep training has finally paid off and she is almost sleeping through the night, which means I'm not being woken up every two hours.

night-time rituals with Maria folau

Q&A with Maria Folau

As an elite athlete at the top of her game, a good night’s sleep is vital for Silver Fern Maria Folau.

Maria shares the regular night-time routine she uses to help her nod off after another busy day.

1. Do you have a night-time ritual that helps you to relax before you go to bed?

I always have a hot drink of some sort. Normally it's either an English or green tea or maybe an indulgent hot chocolate (I'm a big fan of this!). I normally have books or lectures of some sort to read or watch on my phone until I'm feeling tired. Then I call my fiancé to say goodnight and catch some zzzzzs!

2. What one thing do you have to do before you climb into bed that helps you with your sleep?

A nice long, hot shower. It's a MUST.

3. Have you made any recent changes to your night-time ritual to help you get a better night's rest?

Getting to bed early is always a good start. My days are always so busy and getting to bed at a decent time can be a struggle. But what has helped me lately is not spending so much time reading on my phone, putting it to sleep mode, shutting my eyes and clearing my head in silence. I find this helpful and get to sleep a lot quicker than before, especially after a hectic day.

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