5 soothing practices to help you wind down before you go to bed

Feb 26, 2024
Source: Getty Images.

Our sleep cycles are affected by our body’s activity during the day, so it is important to understand ways we can assist our bodies relax into a calmer, sleepier state. Here are 5 soothing practices to help your body wind down before going to bed.

Time your meals

Time-restricted eating (TRE), a form of intermittent fasting, can do wonders for your sleep. Your body temperature will naturally fall when bedtime approaches, however, eating close to bedtime alerts the digestive system to start working – in turn, raising your body temperature and making it difficult to fall asleep. Plus, it can assist with your digestion.

Gabrielle Newman, Nutritionist and Recipe Developer says, “By reducing the hours your body needs to break down food, you’re allowing space for rejuvenation and healing, which tend to happen when we sleep! By finishing your last meal 2-3 hours prior to your bedtime followed by at least a 12-hour overnight fast, your body can more efficiently repair at night”.

Eat to sleep

Eating a healthy Mediterranean-based diet can help improve your sleep. Many of the staple foods in this diet are known to aid sleep, such as nuts and seeds which are high in magnesium (often referred to as the ‘sleep mineral’), oily fish, which is high in omega 3 fatty acids that increase sleep hormone levels, and green veggies which aid the production of melatonin.

A Mediterranean-style diet is packed with nutrients that help keep your body and brain happy and is a great way to feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. Gabrielle says, “We know that more than 70% of our serotonin is formed in our gut. Serotonin converts to melatonin, helping us fall asleep and stay asleep. It’s crucial that our gut microbiome is functioning optimally to create this serotonin.”

Slow down your exercise

Regular exercise is a scientifically proven strategy to enhance sleep quality, so engaging in aerobic or resistance exercises in your day can positively impact your sleep. Closer to bedtime, you could try a slower-paced workout such as gentle pilates, yoga or stretching to ease yourself into a sleepier state.


Meditation in the evening can be an incredibly powerful tool to help calm your mind. Breathwork in particular can allow you to wind down from the day and prepare your body for a peaceful sleep. If you’re struggling to fall asleep or wake up in a panic, try 4-2-4 breathing where you breathe in four seconds, hold for two seconds, and then breathe out in four seconds, and hold for two. Repeat.

Reduce distractions

Try making your bedroom a screen-free space – remove the TV and any laptops or computers, and keep your phone out of arm’s reach; ideally face down and at least on silent. Light exposure disrupts the surge of melatonin needed for sleep, so by reducing your screen time before bed, you’re more likely to drift off quickly.

If you’re one of the many who struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, try adding these practices to your lifestyle or routine.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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