Bedtime rituals - the expert guide to perfecting yours and improving sleep hygeine

Bedtime rituals are an essential part of improving your sleep, and this expert guide will show you how to do it

Bedtime rituals Piglet in Bed bed linen
(Image credit: Piglet)

Bedtime rituals are the practice you get into as you prepare to go to bed. It's about easing the mind, helping you wind down, and making sure you relax enough to drop straight off. It's a small step that can improve your life no end.

We spend a lot of time thinking about bedroom ideas here, but the design only goes so far, and working how to get a better bedtime ritual is the holistic approach we champion here at Livingetc. 

And so we asked sleep expert Lisa Artis from The Sleep Charity to tell us just what we need to do. 

Bedtime rituals - how to create the perfect one

"Your pre-bedtime ritual is about doing something that draws a line under the day, and creating a calming and relaxing space before going to bed," says sleep expert Lisa Artis. 

"An hour before bedtime, switch off any source of blue light, and any overhead lights, which are harsher and brighter. Think about an ambient setting with bedside lamps or candles - not only does it help create a calming, relaxing atmosphere, a dimmed environment helps us to produce melatonin, which is what we need to feel sleepy." Temperature is also important if you're wondering how to sleep better. "Also, your bedroom temperature should be about 16-18°C," Lisa adds.

Bedtime rituals Inhabit Hotels

(Image credit: Inhabit Hotels)

Lisa thinks that the best bedtime rituals start around 60 minutes before you actually go to bed. "Make this hour about de-stressing and focusing the brain on something soothing - read, meditate, write a to-do list even, if that helps you offload your stresses," Lisa says. "How you spend this time comes down to personal preference. Maybe a scented candle helps you get in the right frame of mind; for many people, having a bath is a good way of relaxing." It could be that you need one of the best home fragrances to put you in a mood to chill. 

"Some people benefit from doing breathing exercises," Lisa continues. "Create a relaxing ritual around putting on your pyjamas and getting ready for bed - maybe it’s a time for applying body lotion all over, which can feel quite therapeutic. You might also want a bedtime snack if you find you wake up in the night or in the early morning with low blood sugar levels - something like oatcakes or toast with peanut butter."

There are also several apps to help you unwind. "Sleep sounds can help you to relax and get into the right space - it might be the sound of water or birds or ambient music (try Headspace’s deep sleep music), or soothing sleep stories (try Penguin Sleep Tales, Calm Sleep Stories and Headspace Sleepcasts)," Lisa says. "The Sound Asleep Club offers breathwork, yoga for sleep, sleep stories etc - there’s some good stuff out there. But try to avoid actually falling asleep to sounds as it can wake you up when it finishes, and you can develop a dependency on it."

Bedtime rituals Dark grey loft bedroom

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

It's not just enough to have one of the best mattresses in order to get to sleep, Lisa continues. "A bedtime routine is about conditioning your body into being sleep-ready, but don't feel you have to stick to the list if that’s likely to cause you more stress and anxiety. Do it only if it gets you into the right frame of mind."

Fleur Britten

Fleur Britten is a well-respected journalist who for years was the Senior Features Editor at Sunday Times Style. She is known as one of the smartest lifestyle journalists around, revered for being able to decode trends and report on new zeitgeists as they happen. She now writes for the Telegraph, Livingetc, Vogue and The Mail on Sunday's You magazine.