Many of us look forward to a good night’s rest at the end of a long day, although for some it’s not as easy as simply closing your eyes and drifting off to sleep.
Whether it’s anxiety, stress or anything else preventing you from winding down it can become extremely frustrating if it happens on too many occasions.
With that in mind, we’ve put together a few suggestions to help you learn how to sleep better at night, so you can wake up in the morning feeling more refreshed and ready for the day ahead.
1) Gently massage your skin
Even if you are trying to drift off to sleep at night by yourself, you can still benefit from the power of a soothing massage.
The key is to focus on certain pressure points that can help your body relax so you are ready to close your eyes for a good night’s rest.
For example, use your fingers to look for the small, empty space at the top of your wrist that is lined up with your smallest finger.
Gently apply pressure in a circular motion or in an up-and-down movement for 2-3 minutes on the left-hand side of the point before switching to the right side. You can then repeat the same for your other wrist.
Alternatively, you could try lower down on your body closer to your ankle. Find the highest point of the ankle and from this point count four finger widths further up your leg.
Then start applying deep pressure just behind your tibia using up-and-down or circular motions for 4-5 seconds at a time (however do not use this pressure point if you are pregnant as there is a risk of inducing labour).
To further nourish your skin with these exercises you can use 5 drops of lavender oil diluted with 10ml of carrier oil so it is easier for you to complete the movements on your skin, while also helping you to mentally and physically prepare for better sleep.
Lavender can help overall relaxation by soothing the nervous system, which can work wonders before going to bed.
You can learn more about the health benefits of lavender essential oil here.
2) Have a nice relaxing bath
Sometimes your brain needs a little reminder that it’s time to go to sleep, especially after a long day, so if you’re wondering how to improve sleep quality, this could be a good place to start.
Taking a bath may help send the right signal to your brain that it’s time to curl up under the duvet. On a more basic level, it also means you are cleaner at bedtime, reducing the build-up of dirt, sweat and body oils on your bedding.
In the hours leading up to bedtime our core body temperature starts to lower, while the skin temperature of our hands and feet starts to rise.
Studies suggest that immersing the body in warm water can help this regulation process, which could help to improve sleep.
The temperature sweet spot appears to be somewhere between 40°C and 42.5°C and studies have shown that those who bathe an hour or two before going to bed tend to drift off quicker.
Running a warm bath could be the thing that helps you get a good night’s rest, and if you want to try some natural remedies to sleep better at night you might want to consider clary sage oil.
The sweet, floral scent blends into the water to help you destress, inducing a sense of well-being and putting you in a better mental space before you get into bed.
Learn more about the health benefits of clary sage essential oil here.
3) Use essential oils to relax
Essential oils have been used as medical treatments since ancient times, helping people who want to learn how to sleep better at night naturally.
From soothing feelings of anxiety to helping you de-stress, essential oils vapour or scents can be used to find a sense of inner peace for the evening.
Research has demonstrated that smell can affect the way you sleep, so adding essential oils to your night-time routine could improve your chances of getting a better night’s rest.
Smells are able to produce physiological and psychological responses and, in some cases, become part of the emotional memory through repeated experience.
Aromatherapy uses essential oils in three different ways: indirect inhalation (with a diffuser), direct inhalation (hot water) and skin application (massage).
You can handpick individual oils to suit your personal taste or try essential oil blends that use a combination of oils such as lavender, cedarwood, ylang ylang and lemon verbena.
It’s all about finding the right balance and blend of oils to set the right mood for the evening, allowing you to relax and disconnect from whatever it may be that is stopping you from enjoying a restful sleep.
4) Give yourself space from electronic devices
Many of us are connected to electronic phones from the moment we wake up to until we are ready to close our eyes again. But the light emitting from our electronic devices – be it a smartphone, iPad or laptop – can have a detrimental effect on our sleep patterns.
Our biological clock is designed to follow a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle, producing the cortisol hormone in the morning to keep us alert and as daylight starts to fade, the melatonin hormone is produced to help our body prepare for sleep.
However, modern electronic devices emit short-wavelength enriched light (also referred to as blue light) which has been shown to delay or reduce the natural production of melatonin, making it more difficult to go to sleep.
Studies have also shown that blue light can affect the amount of time you spend in slow-wave and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, two stages of the sleep cycle that are critical for cognitive functioning.
Part of learning how to improve sleep quality includes changing routines and patterns, so it may be worth making the bedroom a screen-free zone in the evening.
Set a time to put down your phone or laptop in the evening so you can relax and feel naturally ready for bed and use lamps or dimmer switches to lower the lighting and set a more relaxing mood.
And if you want to use natural remedies to sleep better at night, you could also try the beautiful scent of ylang ylang oil that can be used as part of a pre-bedtime skincare routine.
Studies have suggested that when inhaled or applied to the skin, ylang ylang oil can also boost self-esteem and ease anxiety.
Learn more about the health benefits of ylang ylang essential oil here.
5) Create a set routine before bedtime
Humans are creatures of habit and the more we repeat something and adopt it into our daily lives, the easier it becomes for our brains to accept and respond accordingly.
So, if you have difficulty sleeping, introducing a simple bedtime routine that you follow every night could make all the difference to the amount of sleep you enjoy.
Start with setting a bedtime you can realistically stick to and decide on when you would like to wake up. Then schedule a time to start your bedtime routine, which should be 30 minutes to 2 hours before you get under the covers.
Stay away from electronics and activities that require heavy concentration once your bedtime routine begins, as this will allow your brain to wind down.
You should avoid heavy meals, but having a light snack, be it a piece of fruit, yoghurt or a non-caffeinated tea, ensures you don’t go to bed on an empty stomach.
As we suggested above, you can take a warm bath or maybe listen to some music that can help you relax. Reading a book is another way to relax, as is meditating or using relaxation techniques that focus on stretching and breathing.
Try to make the bedroom as cool, dark and quiet as possible too, setting the temperature to around 15 to 21°C, removing clutter and maybe using a diffuser or oil burner with essential oil blends to add your favourite scent to the room.
You don’t have to try all of these suggestions, but see what feels right and what works best for your routine every night.
These are just some of the ideas you can try if you want to learn how to sleep better at night.
From time to time many of us have difficulty drifting off to sleep, so whether it’s a regular problem or just something that happens on occasion, it’s good to have a few tricks you can use to make things easier.
We would also recommend that if you are concerned about your sleep duration and quality these techniques do not help you should make an appointment to see your doctor.
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