James Colquhoun (Filmmaker, Food Matters
& Hungry For Change
We have all read the articles on what healthy people do in the morning, but how about what they do before bed? This is just as important as it helps wrap up the day and sets the tone for a fresh start in the morning.
We have all read the articles on what healthy people do in the morning, but how about what they do before bed? This is just as important as it helps wrap up the day and sets the tone for a fresh start in the morning. By creating a nightly routine out of these simple steps (you might even be doing some of these already!), you will be sure to notice a change in both your health and happiness.
1. Plan For Tomorrow
One of the keys to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to always be prepared; you will feel organized and won’t need to stress in the morning. Lay out your exercise gear for the next morning (socks, underwear and shoes included), iron your uniform if needed, gather any important paperwork and most importantly, prepare your lunch for the following day. Whether you just pack up some leftovers from dinner or spend an extra 20 minutes making something else, being prepared when it comes to lunch stops you from making rash and unhealthy choices the next day. You could be so busy that you just grab some takeaway on your way back to the office or you might even skip lunch altogether. Best of all, you will even save some cash in doing so! It all adds up.
2. Switch Off Technology One Hour Before Bed
How many of you say goodnight to your loved ones and headed to bed only to spend the next hour laying there checking Facebook and Instagram? Now how many of you have then realized four hours have passed, it’s now 2 a.m and you’re on YouTube watching a dog dancing in perfect sync with its owner to Grease Lightning? Yeah, we’ve all been there. By switching off the technology an hour (or two!) before bed, you have time to wind down without distractions. Not only can the artificial light emitted from phones and computers have a serious effect on your body clock and encourage sleep disorders, but putting the phone away will give you more room for quality time with your loved ones. What could be more important than that?
3. Keep a Gratitude Journal
A great way to bring further happiness into your life is by actively and regularly expressing gratitude. Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal not only increases happiness but reaps other benefits including better sleep and fewer symptoms of illness. What do you have to lose? By setting a small amount of time aside each night (or even every few nights if that works best for you- you don’t want it to become a job) to jot down some things from your day that you are grateful for will remind you what a blessed life you lead but will also get any negative thoughts out of your mind, making it less likely that you will dwell on issues that can keep you up at night. Best of all, by keeping a record you can look back over them every now and then if you are having a bad day and it will be sure to turn that frown upside down.
4. Stretch it Out
How many times have leg cramps or a sore back made it difficult for you to get to sleep or woken you up throughout the night? Stretching helps lengthen tendons and muscles and can reduce the frequency and severity of cramps ensuring you get a better nights sleep. Not only stretching the sore muscles help,
but by giving your whole body a good stretch relaxes your muscles and body and releases any built up tension. Your body will feel like it’s melting onto the bed afterwards.
We live in a crazy world, don’t we? We are constantly being bombarded with information via the television, social media, the internet, friends and work- it’s no wonder so many people feel overwhelmed, stressed and anxious! By meditating before bed, you are slowing down your brain activity which results in a deeper and more peaceful sleep. This is perfect if you do have issues falling asleep; before you know it you will be sleeping like a small, well-fed child. Even if you already incorporate meditation into your day, give it a go before bed and see the results yourself. My bet is you will wake up feeling well-rested, energized and ready to take on the day!
6. Curl Up With a Good Book
Reading before bed is good for you in so many ways. First of all, it calms the nerves by eliminating excess sound and vision stimulus (exactly the opposite of what you get from watching television!). As we discussed earlier, television has noises, flashing lights and far too many distractions for when it’s meant to be a time to wind down for the night. Reading a good book before you go to sleep helps you escape to another world without the need for dramatic television shows. Aside from reading helping you to wind down and sleep better, it also improves brain function, your memory and the thinking process overall. You don’t have to get deep into a fantasy novel, just switching off the main lights, switching on a Himalayan salt lamp and curling up in bed with the newspaper, magazine or a short story will reap benefits far beyond a good nights sleep.
7. Get Enough Sleep
I’ve gone on a lot about the benefits of aiding sleep, haven’t I? Well, it’s true, one habit you should be committing to every night is to simply make sleep a priority. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? But with stressful jobs, busy social lives and children to look after, ensuring you get enough shut-eye can be difficult and there have been many articles written on the dangers of sleep deficiency and it's link to increased stress, weight gain, and productivity loss. An easy way to do this is to consistently go to bed at roughly the same time every night. Work out when you need to wake up and count back 8 hours to ensure you get a solid nights sleep. Going to bed late, getting 5 or 6 hours sleep and snoozing your alarm three times in the morning is the worst thing you can do and sets a bad tone for your day. Incorporating the above steps into your nightly routine will help let your body know it’s time to slow down and get you in the right mindset for sleep so you won’t be laying on your back staring at the ceiling for hours.
Have We Missed Anything? What Do You Do To Wind Down Before Bed?
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