A healthy sleep routine is essential for pretty much every aspect of your health.
During your sleep and especially during the important deep sleep phase or Delta sleep, your brain repairs itself, keeping your short- and long-term memory and your learning capacity in optimal condition.
The pituitary gland, a gland in your brain, secretes important hormones, such as the human growth hormone that is necessary for the development and healthy functioning of the entire body.
Your energy reserves are replenished, so that you can be all energized again the next day.
Your muscles relax completely. Delta sleep increases blood flow to your muscles, allowing essential nutrients to reach them properly. Your muscles can now recover from your daily activities, especially after intense physical exertion.
Cell regeneration takes place, this is why a “beauty sleep” plays a major role in maintaining healthy, radiant skin.
Good sleep is also important for a strong immune system, it ensures that your mind and emotions are balanced and that you can experience physical and mental well-being.
The most important tips for a healthy sleep routine
Let’s start with the most important one, because if this one is out of balance, all the rest just won’t do it.
Go to bed with a clean mind and heart
If there is anything bothering you, it will unequivocally come up when you lay your head on your pillow.
During the day there is a lot of distraction in work, errands, communication with others, your phone, etc. Once you close your eyes, it’s just you and your thoughts. Make sure they work for you and not against you.
You do this by making a habit of staying connected with yourself, having the courage to look honestly at what works and what doesn't in your life and implement the necessary changes.
Taking good care of yourself is the foundation for everything. Know and respect your boundaries and consciously cultivate a positive mindset. This will support you:
Keep a journal, so that you can connect to what’s going on inside of you.
A gratitude journal is especially powerful as it helps you generate authentic gratitude and you start your day intentionally and in a high frequency.
I write in mine twice a day: after I wake up and before I go to sleep.
It's very fast and to the point: I write how I feel, 3 things that I am grateful for and 3 things that would make that day amazing.
Reading at night what a great day I had, elevates my happiness and makes it even more pleasant to go sleep because I am so much looking forward to the next day.
It also puts things in perspective, so if I didn't do everything I wanted to, I know tomorrow. is a new opportunity.
Yoga and meditation
A calming Yin yoga session in the evening is perfect to clear your mind, stretch your body, relax your muscles and get you from your head into your heart.
Meditation can deepen this even more and is very relaxing.
You can do this silently or by listening to an audio meditation. Joe Dispenza has created powerful meditations for this purpose.
Avoid screen time
Take a break from electronics at least an hour prior to going to bed.
The blue light from your phone, computer, tablet or TV interferes with the formation of the sleep hormone melatonin and your sleep cycle.
It also keeps your mind engaged and often over-stimulated.
Instead of endless scrolling on your phone, you can read a nice book. It's relaxing and will help you fall asleep easier.
I personally don’t ever enter any electronics into my bedroom.
My cell phone and laptop stay in the living room and at night I turn everything off, including the WIFI. I put my cell phone on airplane mode at night.
Consistent sleep schedule
Make it a habit to go to sleep around the same time every day and get up at the same time as well. This helps your body and mind stay in the same rhythm.
Your bedroom is a space to relax, rest and rejuvenate.
Keep it clean, pleasant and cozy in terms of energy and style.
Soft, dimmed lights and therapeutic lamps such as Himalayan salt lamps are a great addition.
Keep the place under your bed and whatever is in your view empty - it’s a place to rest, not to store stuff.
A pleasantly cool temperature in your bedroom helps you sleep better.
You shouldn’t feel cold, but rather comfortable, so play around with what temperature works for you.
When I wake up I open my windows and -depending on the outside temperatures of the time of the year- let it air all day long to get plenty of oxygen in.
Hot shower or bath
Besides getting all nice and clean, washing the day away and relaxing you, taking a warm shower or a bath actually helps you sleep better.
It increases your body temperature which after you get out of the shower drops again and this stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Your bath or shower should be close before going to bed - ideally with dimmed light or candle light for easy transition into night rhythm.
The happy hormone serotonin contributes to the production of melatonin.
90% of serotonin is made in the gut, so proper nutrition will directly impact how you feel..and sleep!
Other ways to increase your serotonin levels is by spending time in nature, working out, getting enough sunlight, yoga and meditation.
Read more about how to elevate your happy hormones in this article.
One of the most relaxing and enjoyable things in the world is getting a good massage, whether it’s your back, head, feet or a full body massage, you will sleep so much better!
Adding relaxing essential oils such as lavender or rose will make it even more therapeutic.
Give your body enough time to digest your food by eating early and light in the evening.
If intermittent fasting is your thing (I’ve been doing it for years and love it) you can set a daily time frame for eating, for example between 13.00 and 21.00 and then fast during the rest of the day. You can drink water, tea and other calorie-free natural beverages.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine
Some people think that alcohol helps you sleep better because it relaxes you, but it actually disrupts your sleep cycle.
This also applies to caffeine and nicotine. Theine found in for example black and green tea is the same thing as caffeine, so it's better to drink herbal tea in the evening.
Get enough exercise during the day. Leave plenty of time before your workout and bedtime, so no intense workout late in the evening.
Being in bed and reading your favorite book is a great way to end your day and help you get sleepy. Choose something relaxing and light.
Relaxing adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms such as Ashwagandha, Tulsi and Reishi help you relax, calm down your nervous system and deepen your sleep.
You can prepare a delicious Ayurvedic moon milk with them before you go to sleep or make a healthy light snack.
Here are recipes for adaptogenic moon milk:
Butterfly pea moon milk with lavender
Rose vanilla moon milk
Tessa, a client who’s been using the I am calm blend and monitors her sleep with a smartwatch went from 5% deep sleep to 19% within a few weeks.
A healthy adult should get 13-23% of deep sleep per night.
Read about her experience here.
These were my personal tips for a healthy sleep routine.
As someone who has experienced insomnia in the past, I know how challenging it is when your sleep is out of balance. Fortunately, due to the right lifestyle changes, it was temporary and I have been sleeping great for years. And hopefully you are too!
Priscilla du Preez