You have finally finished a 12-hour shift. It might be the first of the season or the fifth in a row. You flop into bed, start scrolling on your phone, and then after a while turn out the lights and expect to fall asleep. Sometimes this works, but sometimes, even when you’re exhausted, the adrenaline and momentum of working all day won’t let your body and mind slow down.
What’s worse is that sometimes during those nights, the quality of sleep is just average. The next day feels like you haven’t slept at all.
Luckily, there are many tricks for getting good, quality sleep that will greatly improve your health and performance on board.
Here’s a 30-minute routine to unwind physically and mentally at the end of a hard day.
- Have a shower and use a calming body wash such as Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Body Wash.
- Dim the lights and listen to soft, soothing music.
- Do some light yoga stretching for about 10 minutes. Focus on breathing, and do poses that calm, not invigorate.
- Soak your feet in a bucket of warm water, epsom salt and lavender oil. Sip on a cup of herbal tea.
- Use a foot roller for a few minutes to work out any tension, and then massage your feet with a nice lotion. If you have stressed or sore parts on your body, focus on acupressure points on your feet.
- Put on moisturizing socks, lie on the floor and put your feet up the wall for five minutes. Wrap yourself in a soothing lavender body wrap.
- Make sure the room is cool, dark and quiet. Try noise canceling ear phones, earplugs, and an eye mask, if necessary. Quality eye masks will soothe eyes, relieve headaches, reduce puffiness, and leave your face feeling refreshed for the next day.
If you have to get to bed straight away, here’s a 10-minute routine.
- Have a hot shower and use a calming body wash such as Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Body Wash.
- Dim the lights and put on some soft, soothing music.
- Do two or three standing or sitting stretches such as forward bends. Breathe deep for a few minutes.
- Massage your feet, and then put them up the wall.
- Turn off the lights and close your eyes in a cool, dark, and quiet room.
Quiet the mind
In addition to physical relaxation, take a minute to quiet the mind. If you have trouble stopping thinking about what you have to do tomorrow, write in a journal for 1 minute.
The key is to set a timer and write everything that comes to mind for one minute without stopping and analyzing what you’ve written. This type of free flow releases anything in your mind and lets you drift off to sleep without worries.
In addition to that, make sure you have a more formal list ready before going to sleep so that you won’t be thinking about it while trying to sleep.
Tips and secrets
Studies have shown that the shortwave blue light from a computer and smartphones keeps our brain active and prohibits it from producing the melatonin needed for sleep. If you have trouble winding down, stay off digital devices before bed. Even e-readers can have the same effect, so turn down the backlight and just use a lamp to read and to help with melatonin release.
Additional supplements that help with sleep include teas such as camomile, valerian root and rooibos teas; essential oils such as lavender and sandalwood; and supplements such as valerian root, melatonin and magnesium. (Use caution with supplements as some people can be sensitive or allergic to them.)
Angela Orecchio is a chief stew and certified health coach. This column was edited from her blog, Savvy Stewardess, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Yachting.