5 ideas to create a relaxing bedtime ritual

Good sleep can be transformative to mood, skin health and our overall feelings of wellbeing. These last few years of mounting uncertainty have created heightened stress for many which without doubt has impacted sleep. UCL researchers as part of a Covid-19 Social Study (qualitative) found a combination of disruption to routine and stress, had resulted in 1 in 10 people having reduced quality of sleep. Today's blog looks at 5 simple things we can do for ourselves to ease the mind and relax into a peaceful sleep.

1. Apple cider vinegar & raw honey

Did you know drinking warm water with a shot of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and raw honey can aid a good night sleep? ACV can slow down the emptying of the stomach, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels. The acetic acid in vinegar may reduce fat storage, suppress appetite, slow digestion and increase the fat-burning process. Reported to aid digestion by helping to speed up the breakdown of protein rich foods, the digestive processes speeds up the production of amino acids such as tryptophan which can increase the production of hormones such as melatonin and serotonin relaxing and improving sleep. What's more, blood sugar levels tend to rise while we're asleep, typically between 4 am and 8 am. High blood sugar can impact the quality of sleep, making us feel overly warm even irritable. Adding raw local honey supports the production of melatonin, helping our body to fall asleep naturally. Like ACV, ingesting honey enables tryptophan to enter the brain more easily and at a faster rate. A tablespoon of honey also contains 17g of glycogen, low levels of glycogen signal to the brain that we're hungry. Consuming some honey before bed can help you replenish your body's glycogen stores, making it the perfect food to help you stay asleep throughout the night.  I have to say I have definitely noticed a difference in both speed at which I nod off and in quality of sleep, far less wakefulness. A winning combination for a deep nights sleep.

2. Wind down with Yoga nidra

Yoga nidra is a form of deep relaxation with many positive benefits, it sounds much simpler a practice to hatha yoga yet laying down and actively being in awareness is actually really difficult in practice - when we are so used to a myriad of distraction. I'm not going to lie it's 23:33 and I'm writing this blog post with one eye open and that is down to my wasting time surfing on my not so SMART aka dumb phone earlier! Anyway, I digress here's an article from Cleveland Clinic on what Yoga nidra is in some detail warning it may blow your mind! Experienced as a 45 minute laying down (10-15 minutes is fine as a starting point) of conscious sleep there are many recorded improvements in sleep quality, insomnia severity, depression anxiety and stress scores after yoga nidra. The improvement remained even after 3 months of starting the intervention. (Here's the study for more).

There are said to be 10 stages of a yoga nidra practice, these steps are outlined by Richard Miller in his “10 Stages of Yoga Nidra.”

  1. Connect to your heart’s deepest desire. Focus on a lifelong goal or something that relates to your health. Visualize reaching this goal and feel the joy that comes with accomplishing it.
  2. Set an intention. Think about why you’re practicing — to get centered, to put some self-care on the schedule — whatever the reason, keep it at the forefront of the yoga nidra practice.
  3. Find your inner resource. This involves tapping into a safe space within the body so you can feel secure and at ease while you practice.
  4. Scan your body. During a body scan, you’ll be asked to focus on certain parts or sensations throughout the body. The goal of this is to help reduce tension so you can relax.
  5. Become aware of your breath. Pay attention to how air is flowing in and out of your body. Take note of how it comes in your nostrils and how your abdomen rises and falls. This can help you slow down and breathe evenly.
  6. Welcome your feelings. If you had a rough day, embrace it. You don’t have to ignore the tough stuff, but in recognizing it, you can also think about the opposite of whatever emotion you’re feeling to balance things out.
  7. Witness your thoughts. Similar to step six, you want to observe your thoughts in the moment without judging or trying to block them out. Should any negative thoughts about yourself surface, think about the positive side of things to ease tension.
  8. Experience joy. If you start to feel blissed out, embrace it and let it wrap around your body.
  9. Observe your “self.” Be aware of your personality and how you might be feeling. In other words, your sense of “I-ness.” Then, consider yourself an observing witness. This will help you wake up more aware and in tune with your feelings.
  10. Reflect on your practice. When you finish, think about how you feel and what you were able to tap into during your session. Then, think about how you can bring the peace or joy you might be feeling into daily life whether times are good or bad. Don’t rush out of your practice. Take a few minutes to transition back into the waking state of life.

3. Eat a Banana

Bananas can reduce stress and anxiety, alleviate muscle cramps, and regulate our sleep-wake cycle with serotonin and melatonin. Bananas are rich in sleep promoting nutrients. Not only do they contain the amino acid Typtophan, Bananas are rich in potassium, too, which plays an important role in sleep and is also a natural muscle relaxant as well. Bananas also contain magnesium and in a double-blind placebo-controlled study found that increasing a person’s magnesium intake can help treat insomnia and other sleep-related problems.

4. Indulge in Skin Elixir self care skincare

I've formulated the Magnificent Night Oil with your good sleep in mind not only will it leave skin velvet to the touch overnight (thanks to optimal levels of omega fatty acids pomegranate seed oil, black seed oil, moringa oil and the skin soothing effects of calendula, Basil is known for its help with supporting uninterrupted sleep. You can read all about it here. Add the jade roller to create a blissful selfcare ritual and if you prefer the silk like texture of an elegant cream then you can opt for the Intensive Night Cream powered by 2% Bakuchiol.

A lovely review:

5/5 Paula Drakeford - 31 March 2022

"The intensive night cream. Miracles do come in jars My skin has been suffering with dryness, and rosacea while I'm in perimenopause. Put this face cream on for the first time last night. I'm not kidding when I say this morning my skin was visibly softer. Blemishes soothed. Not only did my face look brighter I swear I looked younger. After one night!!!! Get this people your skin will love you for it."

5. Listen to a soothing meditation

There's something incredible relaxing about taking five as your head hits the pillow to fall into the dulcet tones of a sleep charged guided meditation.. guaranteed to help you arrest any restless thoughts and long to do lists. Proven to quieten the mind whilst calming the senses, it really can be the bedtime ritual that will ease you into sleep. Here's a beautiful 5 minute meditation specifically to aid a restful sleep. Meditation is proven to help restore balance in the automatic nervous system the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic system you read more on that here


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