You know how important sleep is. You have all the best intentions. But when you get into bed, you just can’t switch your brain off. It keeps working and working and working. All of a sudden, it’s 1 am and you know you have to get up at 6!

So how do you shut off your overactive brain and get that sleep that you so desperately need?

Say No To Booze

If you have fallen into the habit of having a glass or two of wine or beer in the evening, then it is time to stop. While it may feel like it is helping you unwind, alcohol actually affects the quality of your sleep quite drastically.

Because alcohol is a depressant and a neurotoxin, the body works harder than it should at night to clear your system. Your liver should be resting while you sleep, but when you have alcohol in your system, it is still working hard to break down those toxins.

When the liver uses more energy than it should, your brain is not fed its usual resources, so does not recuperate in time for the following day. After a full night’s sleep, you can still wake up feeling exhausted.

Ditch The Screen

I bet you have heard that the blue light of a smartphone screen can affect your sleep. But did you know that any screen emits that same blue light? That includes the TV screen, e-readers, computer monitors and laptops.

While watching TV (or Netflix) is a good way to wind down, you should shut it off at least an hour before you are due to go to sleep. So, what can you do instead? Try reading a paperback, journaling, or even chatting with your significant other.

Skip The Snack

A late night snack can give your body a burst of energy and make it hard to settle down to sleep. You also need to be mindful of what foods you choose for dinner. Acidic, fatty or spicy foods can stimulate the brain, so if they are on the menu, make sure you have an early dinner.

There are certain foods that can also stimulate your brain, so be mindful of bacon, soy sauce, some cheeses, nuts, tomatoes and red wine.

Smell the Lavender

Lavender helps to relax your body by lowering your blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature. When you are relaxed, obviously it is easier to fall asleep. Using scent is a powerful method because the nerve fibres associated with smell are located very close to the brain.

You can also teach your body to form a habit. If you smell lavender every night before bed for an extended period, it will teach your brain that the scent is an indicator to calm down for sleep.

If the smell of lavender reminds you too much of your grandmother’s sock drawer, then you can substitute in jasmine for a similar effect.

Milk And Spice Is Very Nice!

Instead of sugar-filled milk drinks, concoct your own milky bedtime blend. Try almond milk, turmeric and manuka honey.

The almond milk is full of magnesium which reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and calms your nervous system. The turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties calm any nighttime stomach issues that might otherwise keep you awake. And the manuka honey helps boost your immunity and ward off germs that can break your sleep.

Turn Down The Heat

A hot and stuffy room will make it hard to nod off as a slightly lower body temperature is needed to sleep. Turn off any heating or get some airflow going so that your bedroom is a comfortable temperature come sleep time.

While it sounds counterproductive, you can also try having a hot bath at least an hour before bed. Yes, it will make your temperature rise in the first instance, but the rapid cooldown period afterwards will relax you and make sleep easier.

If you can nail your sleep routine and get a quality night’s rest then you will enjoy the benefits of better concentration, greater memory power, even moods, less stress and enhanced creativity.