Sleep is one of the most important functions of our body. Quality of our sleep depends on our lifestyle and, more importantly, on how we wind down before sleeping. It is important to plan well and follow certain steps for a better sleep. To maximize the returns out of your sleep, plan how you end your day.
Some of us end our day by watching movies or engaging in social media. Some of us work late into the night or try to sleep immediately after eating a heavy, late-night meal. Many of us don’t plan to end our day smoothly. We carry the stress of the day to our bed, which makes it difficult to sleep well. This results in poor sleep quality and impacts the health and joy of living.
How you spend your last hour before you sleep plays an important role in determining your sleep quality. This last one hour is called power-down hour. A proper power-down hour prepares your body and mind for a better sleep. When this time is properly planned and executed, you experience deep sleep and feel refreshed and energized when you wake up in the morning.
Let’s see how to power down effectively.
1. Sunshine breaks: Before we talk about how to power down, it is important to consider how you spend your day. Getting exposed to sunlight frequently during the daytime helps your body prepare better for sleep at night.
Most of us spend a significant portion of our daytime in closed air-conditioned rooms without sunlight exposure. Our urban classrooms, offices, homes are all closed, and there is rarely any chance for sunlight to enter our homes or offices. This insufficient exposure to sunlight is one of the causes of insomnia and other lifestyle diseases. Instead of a coffee break, take sunshine breaks during the daytime where you go out and experience sunshine. This small step of taking multiple sunshine breaks in a day can brighten your mood, increase your productivity, and enhance your sleep quality.
2. Follow a consistent time for your power down hour and sleeping time, even on weekends. This consistency prepares your body and mind better for sleep
3. Set an alarm clock for the start of your power down hour so that you don’t miss the time
4. Once your power down hour starts, stop using all electronic devices
5. Start your power down hour by wearing blue light blocking glasses for your eyes. These glasses protect your eyes and body from blue light emitted from electronic devices and lights around. Blue light exposure at night-time makes your body think that it is still daytime and prevents the body from feeling sleepy. Blocking blue light by wearing these blue light blocking glasses helps your body secrete the right hormones needed to fall asleep
6. Divide your power down hour into 3 segments of 20 minutes each.
First segment – Complete all the small tasks that are important for the next day – like packing your gym bag or your children’s school bag, laying out your clothes for the next day, helping your children with their backpacks, etc. In this segment, complete all those small tasks, which, if not done, will make you anxious in the morning. When you take care of these small tasks before you sleep, you will get time in the morning to relax instead of rushing, and you can start your day with peace. This step will also give you the satisfaction of taking care of the next day and makes you feel relaxed.
Second segment– Take care of your hygiene at this time. Brush your teeth and take a hot water bath. Hot water bath helps your body release melatonin hormone. Melatonin hormone plays a vital role in making you fall asleep.
Third segment – In this final segment, do nothing. This is the time to relax your mind and get it ready for sleep. De-stress yourself and calm down the racing thoughts in your mind using deep breathing and meditation. Try to be in a relaxed state with eyes closed.
This is how you can plan your power down hour. Below are the benefits of a well-planned power-down hour
1. The quality of your sleep is enhanced.
2. It becomes easy to fall asleep.
3. Your body and mind get nourished and healed.
4. Your next day starts with a fresh and relaxed state of mind
In addition to power-down hour, you can also practice the evening ritual, which helps you wind down your day smoothly. Evening ritual is a set of steps performed in the evening time to slow down and prepare ourselves for better sleep. The steps and time spent in evening ritual vary from person to person. Below are some steps you can practice as part of your evening ritual.
1. Watching Sunset – This is a beautiful way to end your day. It rejuvenates and de-stresses you.
2. You can burn incense in your home and diffuse essential oils. These fragrances relax the body and mind and also make your home a joyful place.
3. Lit the lamps and connect with the divine as an act of gratitude.
4. Early dinner – Early dinner gives the body sufficient time to digest the food and makes it easy for the body. Also, this helps in enhancing sleep quality. When you have early dinner, you go to bed with a light stomach, which makes a difference to your sleep quality. Try to have dinner around Sunset time. If it is not feasible, at least have dinner 2 hours before your sleep time.
5. Put away all your gadgets.
6. Wear your blue light blocking glasses 2 hours before going to sleep.
7. Plan to spend your time in the sauna and a warm bath. These relax and de-stress you. It is important to de-stress oneself every day.
8. You can do some light stretches, deep breathing, prayers, and gratitude journal. These practices help you to end your day in a positive state of mind.
You can create your own evening ritual, which relaxes your body and mind. Your ritual should help you de-stress and wind down peacefully. Winding down your day in a systematic and planned way improves the quality of your life significantly. Take some time and plan your power down hour and evening ritual.