To ensure a calm mind and a brain that is ready to sleep when the lights go out it’s important to turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime, and that includes not checking your phone!

Those who fail to heed this advice can suffer from a host of sleep disorders, including an emerging scourge known as sleep texting – another good reason to place your device out of reach before your head hits the pillow.

Sleep texting is similar to sleepwalking, talking, eating and even driving, and usually manifests in those suffering from chronic fatigue. A recent study by the Journal of American College Health attributes the modern phenomenon to poor sleeping habits.

Benefits of quality sleep

“The different stages of sleep we experience are all extremely important for hormone production. Screens emit a frequency of light that interferes with the production of sleep hormones, which can drastically affect sleep quality,” explains Mervyn Ewertse, the founder and MD of Bed King.

And a good night’s sleep is also important for the normal functioning of your circadian rhythm. In this regard, a comfortable mattress is essential. “People who sleep on an uncomfortable mattress will toss and turn up to 80 times a night and seldom reach a state of deep sleep,” says Ewertse.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, hormone regulation (promoting alertness and a balanced appetite), tissue repair and memory consolidation are vital processes that occur in the body when we achieve quality sleep. Disturbing the circadian rhythm can also expose you to a number of illnesses.

Oversleeping also an issue

Alternatively, it is equally important not to oversleep. A recent global study published in the European Heart Journal found that sleeping more than the recommended 6-8 hours increases your propensity for heart disease.

Stress levels also play an important role. However, managing stress is easier said than done. If your life and work are demanding too much of you, it is worth considering stress-relieving techniques like meditation and exercise.

If you struggle to fall asleep, try these tips to calm mind and body before bed:

  • Use a breathing technique to calm your nervous system. One that is known for supporting sleep is “square breathing”. Sit upright in a chair, exhale, then breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, out for four counts and hold for four counts. Repeat for three cycles – or more if it works for you. There are many other breathing exercises you can explore on the internet.
  • Do some light stretching or yoga poses to release the tension of the day and prepare your body for deep relaxation.
  • Essential oils like lavender, sandalwood, bergamot and Ylang Ylang are known for their calming, sleep-inducing effects. Incorporate your favourite aroma into a warm bath or find a pillow spray.
  • Practice visualisation – add details to your mental picture of a countryside scene or an isolated beach.
  • Read or do mental exercises like Sudoku or crosswords.
  • Avoid caffeine after 2 pm and alcohol before bed as both rob you of an uninterrupted night’s sleep.