The smart way to count sheep

Four steps for sleeping success

Black and white dog, with a paw outstretched over a smartphone, lying on a bed with orange cushions and pink blanket, and a big patio window in the background

There’s plenty to keep us up at night these days. And did you know a lot of people find it harder to fall asleep in the summer, as the evening light delays the release of melatonin? If nodding off is becoming a nightmare, follow these simple steps to help ease into dreams.

1. Make a manageable day-time to night-time routine

It’s all about starting and ending the day on the right foot. Developing a few helpful habits will get your brain into the right pattern for night and play.

It’s a good idea to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be running a 5K or doing PE with Joe. It’s about raising your heart rate. Hoovering the house or taking the dog for a walk will do the trick (and checks off a few to-do’s in the process). A bit of exercise helps manage stress and worry and leaves you ready for sleep when the time comes.

If possible, try to keep your space for work and sleep separate. As we’re having to do a lot with a little, try having a set-up that you can take up and down by stowing items like books and laptops away. Similarly, covering the space with a pretty sheet when it’s not in use keeps it ‘out of sight out of mind’. Creating this distinction will mean you naturally relax and wind down where and when you should.

Top tip: Before bed, it’s best to avoid rich foods and foods full of protein (like curry or chicken). So that your body is resting, not digesting.

2. Set the scene for sleep

A good night’s sleep begins with where you go to bed. Take care of the little things with some smart home tech.

Our brains use light to understand when we should be awake or asleep, a ‘body-clock’ known as circadian rhythm. A lot of the wrong light will keep you up at night, so you might want to experiment with some smart lights.

Hive Lights are available in over 16 million colours and can be controlled easily from your smartphone. Selecting warm colours in the evening signal to your body that it’s time to sleep. Red, for example, may feel like a scene from Pulp Fiction at first, but will actually increase melatonin (which makes you feel drowsy).

Tip: Avoid blue light (TV, phone, laptop screens) at least 45 minutes before bed, as it can stimulate the brain.

Circadian rhythm also effects your body temperature. Because this drops at night, it helps to schedule your smart thermostat to between 18-16°C so that your body is neither working to cool down or warm up. As Goldilocks said, it needs to be not too hot, not too cold, and just right.

3. Scents for sleep and helpful home remedies

Some of the simplest tricks for snoozing are right under your nose, as many scents have both calming and relaxing properties.

Try dropping essential oils across your pillowcase. Lavender, valerian, and lemon balm work well to de-stress and unwind.

And as you probably know, a hot drink before bed is a go-to. But instead of sipping away at a cuppa, test out some different herbal teas. With none of the caffeine and a lot of the same positive properties as essential oils, these are a great alternative. But there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a hot chocolate from time to time either.

4. If it’s not happening, get up, and try again

Don’t toss and turn if you can’t sleep.

Try to avoid lying in bed for more than 20 minutes. Get up and do something a bit boring. Perhaps the ironing, reorganising the book shelf, or even a bit of calming colouring. Go back to bed when your eyelids begin to droop.

If you find the process stressful, mindfulness techniques may be the ticket. There are lots of apps or social media platforms that can guide you. But a very easy technique is to lie horizontal and tense in turn, every part of your body, visualising it as you go. Techniques like this both focus the mind and relax the body to ease you into a deep sleep.

From sunrise to sunset, find out more ways that smart home tech can make life that little bit easier at Discover Hive.

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