The winter equinox is here and it’s not only been extremely colder, the days and nights are as it goes, longer. Though, there should be no complaints about that extra hour of sleep we all soon will be taking for granted as spring rears its floral head; isn’t that what Punxsutawney Phil declared, this past weekend? Nevertheless, winter means we all go into hibernation mode. Much like bears do, we have our own dormancy period during the colder months; we eat more to store lasting energies while, the sun stays set longer. Food also provides fuel for warmth during our dawdling, when more sleep is necessary. Our body’s work in tandem with everything we put in it and how we treat it.
1. Eat a Relaxing Dinner: You can support your sleeping habits by eating foods like turkey and salmon which contain the relaxing amino acid tryptophan. Snacks that are rich in magnesium—pumpkin seeds, bone broth, and chickpeas, for example—which can also help stimulate sleep. Walnuts are a great choice when choosing snacks that will help you get on the road to Sleepville, they’re packed with a number nutrients that can help in relaxing your nervous-system. Be sure to stay clear of caffeinated beverages after lunchtime and no alcohol at least three hours before bedtime.
Note: Alcohol is a sedative, drinking wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages may help you fall asleep, but as little as two drinks can cause you to sleep less restfully and wake up more frequently.
2. Get clean: Clean your body and your room to feel fresh and promote relaxation: Use natural and organic products to avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals; declutter your bedroom to reduce stress, and put fresh sheets and cozy blankets on the bed. Then hit the bathroom to dry brush your skin, exfoliate the day away, enjoy a therapeutic milk bath, relax with a winter facial steam, and/or slather on some organic coconut oil before moving on to Step #3.
3. Dream in comfort: Make your room an oasis, your bed a cloud, and your sleepwear super soft. The right pajamas will have you counting down the hours until bedtime.
4. “Smell the roses”: Use aromatherapy to start the relaxation process. The aromas of organic chamomile and lavender oil can help you fall asleep faster. Add a drop of these essential oils to a cotton ball by your pillow, or use products containing natural lavender oil before bedtime to help promote calm and sleep.
5. Turn it off: Turn off the television, lights, and screens—they can mess with your sleep—and instead, grab a book or magazine, meditate, or simply count the stars. Still can’t doze off? Make a mental list of all you have to be thankful for, starting with the big things and going down to the littlest of blessings. Gratitude has been shown to improve sleep quality and help combat insomnia.
6. Get it on: A little roll in the hay can help promote sleep because sex produces the hormone prolactin, responsible for feelings of relaxation and sleepiness, and decreases the production of the stress hormone cortisol. On top of this, estrogen levels also rise in women during intercourse, which, according to Women’s Health, “can enhance a woman’s REM cycle for a deeper sleep.” Get things started (with a partner or yourself!) with a wink and enjoy an intimate experience before your equally satisfying 40 winks.
7. Turn down the heat: According to the National Sleep Foundation, the best temperature for sleeping is around 65 degrees. Keeping your room cooler at night helps work with your body’s natural temperature during sleep and can help fight insomnia while keeping you asleep longer.
8. Stick to a sandman schedule: Overindulging on sleep on weekend mornings to make up for a lack of shut-eye during the week might feel good, but recent studies have shown that it can make you even more tired once Monday rolls around again. Instead of sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays, try going to bed earlier a little on weekends and waking up around the same time you normally do on weekdays—this way, your internal clock stays on track and you won’t feel like chucking your alarm clock across the room when it goes off again on Monday morning!