Find yourself waking up earlier these days or having difficulty getting to sleep, your brain won’t switch off, and you start to think about all the things you need to do the next day? We are trying to pack a million things into our days and all the go – go – go can cause us to be stressed and tired.

Our bodies are affected and we are often not digesting food properly and feel cranky or irritable. High quality sleep is essential, for health and anti-ageing.

In the dark, the pineal gland in the brain releases melatonin and when it’s light pineal gland inhibits melatonin. Melatoninin peaks between 2 and 4 am to help as stay asleep, and then gradually decreases. When the sun rises we gradually start to awaken. In Spring and longer summer days we feel more awake due to the  lower melatonin levels compared to winter.

Here are 6 ways to relax your brain before bedtime:

1. Lessen the Light. In the evenings, dim the lights in your home to
simulate the sun going down. Avoid exposing your eyes to blue light from
television or electronic devices for at least one hour before bedtime. Blue
light, especially, inhibits production of melatonin which is needed for
optimal sleep.

2. Avoid Eating and Drinking. If our body is busy digesting food, it’s more
difficult to settle down for sleep. Drinking during the evening can result in
a bladder that needs to be emptied during the night, disrupting sleep.
Alcohol, while it may help you fall asleep, actually disrupts sleep cycles
during the night.

3. Send a Sleep Message. For the last hour before bed, do something
relaxing, rather than stimulating. Read, journal, listen to calming music,
do light stretching, meditate, have a bath, or do any activity that you find
relaxing. Especially avoid exposure to news. In this way you are telling
your brain it is time to sleep.
4. Empty Your Mind. Write down things that are on your mind. The very
act of dumping from your brain to paper can relieve built up tension or
stress. Keep a notepad and pen by your bedside in case something
comes up while you are in bed.

5. Breathe Deeply. Taking several long, deep breaths into the belly helps
oxygenate the brain, and calms the nervous system. Focusing your
attention on the breath can also help take your mind off other things.

6. Feel Gratitude. After you turn off your light, close your eyes and think of
at least three things that happened during the day which you can be
grateful for. Feelings of gratitude send a signal to your brain that all is
well, allowing you to sleep more peacefully.

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