Practical ways to relax before going to sleep
It's been a long day at the office filled with meetings, errands and hundreds of emails, separated by a quick lunch hour where you’re hoping to have enough time for something at least halfway healthy. The day has stretched well into the evening hours and you remember that you should still hit the gym before heading home. You’re not one to miss a class you’ve signed up for, right?
We’ve all been there. Heck, some of us are stuck living there. How can we break away from this vicious cycle to let your mind and body get the most out of the all-important nightly recovery hours?
Simple in theory, vital in practice
It should be the simplest thing: hit the bed, close your eyes, see you tomorrow! However the faster the daily pace gets, the harder it becomes to switch off. And no, sleep might not find you even if you’re ultra tired. You always need quality rest to make sure your body won’t turn on itself sabotaging those awesome, hard-earned gains.
Despite the positive changes in overall lifestyle trends, on social media you often still run into influencers claiming to be all about hustling, pushing, grinding and slaying dragons 24/7. Frankly, this mindset can lead us to have straight-up toxic ideas about never stopping, thinking, cooling down and switching off. Yet all of these things are vital for a successful training regimen and a healthy work-life balance in general.
Besides nutrition, sleep is the single most important ingredient to get after your day. Switching off for the night can still be tricky even with the correct nutritional balance. Post-workout insomnia is no joke and you want to cross the bridge from today to tomorrow without any hassle.
How to throttle down before bedtime
When all of the day’s major action is done and on replay in your head, your body is sore and you’ve still got those sweet endorphins running through your brain, there are a few tried and true general things you can do for successfully hitting that reset button.
1. Time scheduling
Try to have around three hours between the end of a workout and bedtime. Ease into the sleeping mode, as hitting the sheets straight from a workout will force your body to go to rest in a hurried and agitated state.
2. Wind down the temperature
Cool the bedroom down to anything between 16°C and 20°C. Most of our evolution was spent without central heating, so we sleep best when it is a bit colder than usual at night.
3. Relax your body
Dedicate a few minutes for a post-workout cool-down session. There are plenty of relaxing yoga or meditation routines that can be found online for free. Be mindful of your breathing and slow down the pace.
4. Eliminate blue lights
The blue light of your screens counteracts the natural release of melatonin, the signal in the brain that makes us sleepy. Turn all screens off by 10 p.m. and grab a book instead.
5. Wash off the day
Some prefer a hot bath or a shower that prepares you for sleep. Get under the warm water and come out all drowsy before you cover yourself under a pile of blankets
6. Eat at the right times
Make time for having proper meals throughout the day. This way, your body stays in the right eating rhythm and it will not have to digest too much food just before going to bed.7. Soak up sunlight
Make sure to spend some time outside during the day to increase your exposure to sunlight. Finland can make this hard during the year, so take advantage during the sunny non-winter season.
Finish the day strong, finish it right
Major insomnia issues aside, sleeping is not rocket science. Try and track different methods to find out what works best for you to increase your sleep quality. Hard work pays off, and so does a good night’s sleep.