The big chill: eight easy wind-down routines for a great night's sleep

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Just like anything in life, a good night’s sleep takes planning and practise.

Sure, there are those rare, golden moments when we just roll into bed and drift off. But more often than not, the frantic call of modern life catches up with us.

A work situation ramps up a gear and starts monopolizing precious head space. Our phones seem intent on distracting us with a never-ending symphony of WhatsApp bleeps.

We want to catch up on the last three episodes of Stranger Things, but at the same time we're thinking about tomorrow’s boardroom run-through and have half an eye on that amazing flash sale on Net-a-Porter. 

Suddenly, the prospect of winding down seems about as elusive as Trump minus his Twitter profile. It’s just not going to happen.

Little wonder then, that more and more of us crave down time. 

Digital innovation consultancy Futurice predicts 2017 to be the year of the “MaxiMoment” – with a marked step change towards stretching time, rather than filling it, and slowing things down to enjoy a slower, more invigorating and internally-geared way of life.

Instead of frenetically planning and being glued to social media as if our lives depended on it, Futurice says we will increasingly look to pull back and listen to our own needs, whether physical, emotional or psychological. More of us will skip planning, cut down social media and generally slow down.

The company is anticipating that as part of the shift towards “MaxiMoment”, we will start to revel in joyful spontaneity afforded by more time and less hustle. We’ll move from multitasking to monotasking, as we spend more time we want to spend on the things we want to do.

And a key element of this, is, of course, getting a good night’s sleep. Gwyneth Paltrow famously coined this as “clean sleep” late last year, and is releasing a book dedicated to this, “the biggest health trend of 2017”.

Whether you agree with Paltrow’s dogmatic approach to the issue or not, there’s little doubt that good, solid sleep is becoming the must-have commodity of a digital age; albeit one that is frustratingly difficult to order on demand.

A number of sleep apps have emerged in recent years that cater to the need for better-quality kip. Beddit Sleep Tracker and ReST Smart bed both monitor sleep, so you can track exactly how much you’re getting and start identifying patterns of good and poor sleep throughout the night, and week by week. Then there’s concepts such as video channel Napflix, which has a repertoire of about 60 YouTube videos focusing on “monotony and repetition” to help you slowly ease the tension of the day and drift off.

But technology can only go so far and in some instances, actually impedes our ability to get off to sleep in any case. 

A lot of what goes into good sleep comes down to practicality and good old-fashioned planning.

“Don’t forget, sleep problems aren’t created when you put your head on the pillow at night,” says physiologist and sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan. “Every choice that you make during the day can affect how you sleep at night, so think consciously as you go through your day about the choices you make.”

Here, Dr Ramlakhan shares her top tips for winding down at night, to set yourself up for a deep and restorative sleep. Read on and get set for an altogether more calming night of shut-eye...

  1. Tune out from technology (TVs, computers and phones) an hour before you get into bed, and don’t have anything electronic in your bedroom
  2. If you watch TV, have it in another room and choose something uplifting that makes you laugh.  Don’t go for overstimulating, traumatic programmes, especially if you’re already feeling anxious or emotional
  3. Try to avoid getting involved in upsetting conversations just before bed
  4. Go for a walk before bedtime. Or better still, submerse your bare feet in soil or grass, even if it’s just for five minutes. It’s challenging at this time of the year, but very calming for the nervous system
  1. Have a shower or Epsom salts bath to wash the day off – especially if it has been stressful.  Add your favourite soothing essential oils to your bath
  2. Practice five minutes of calming belly breathing while listening to soothing, relaxing music
  3. Drink a milky drink made with almond or coconut milk
  4. Make sure that you’re ready for work – ideally you will have written a list of what needs to be done the next day, get your clothes ready and maybe even get your breakfast things ready too, so that you’re ready to go the next morning. That way, you minimise the risk that it will play on your mind

Dr Nerina’s second book Fast Asleep Wide Awake (Harper Collins, August 2016) is widely available in bookshops and Amazon.  Her website is

To download the Futurice  Future Forces report, click here

Photos: iStock, Rex Features

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Stylist Team