Fall is a great time for sleep but there are a few tips to avoid some common pitfalls if you want to enjoy a truly restorative sleep.
1. Embrace the darkness, celebrate the light
During the fall it gets darker earlier which can be great for falling asleep. However, we also have less light during the day which can result in our sleep-wake cycle being out of rhythm. We can off-set this by trying to get as much sun as possible during the day, open the curtains directly in the morning and welcome in the light.
Try to take a walk outside during the day, this have the added bonus of helping your body’s vitamin D production. Vitamin D supports our health and our immune system and helps us to feel energized throughout the day.
2. Back to work, not back to stress
As holiday season is over and we are back to work the risk is that our stress levels increase, which can make sleeping difficult. Studies show that there is a clear correlation between stress at work and sleep disorders and it’s a reinforcing cycle. The more tired we are the more stressed we get. When we haven’t slept enough we tend find it more difficult to concentrate and we are more irritable and less patient. Something that can negatively impact both our work life and our family life.
We can beat the stress-sleep cycle however by really prioritising a good night's sleep. Make your bedroom a haven of peace and make sure that you leave your laptop, mobile phone and worries at the bedroom door. Avoid working right before going to bed and try to clear you head.
If need be make a to-do list before going to bed. Write down what’s on your mind and set it aside for tomorrow. By keeping a paper and pen by our bedside we can write down any new to-dos we think of during the night so that we don’t have to activate our brains to try to remember them.
If stress still is keeping you awake, try progressive muscle relaxation. Work through your body from the tip of your toes to the top of your head, tensing each of your muscles as tightly as you can and then relaxing them completely.
3. Eat your way to a better sleep
As the climate gets colder we have less fresh vegetables to choose from and we can become tempted to eat heavier foods. For a high quality sleep we should give our metabolism a break during the night however. We can do this by avoiding foods that are difficult to digest like for example food rich in fat or proteins such as deep fried foods and red meat. Keep these treats for lunch instead of dinner.
We can also use food as a natural sleeping pill, there are some foods that contain or promote the release of melatonin which is the hormone that regulates our sleep. This type of snooze food include for example olives, tomatoes, walnuts and milk.
For many fall is also turkey season and turkey happens also to be a great snooze food. Turkey contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid which acts as a natural mood regulator and is the precursor to melatonin.
4. Create your own cozy cocoon
Fall is a great time to start a new bed time ritual, create your own cozy cocoon and start to unwind before going to bed. Taking a warm bath or shower for example helps us both to feel happier and supports our sleep.
Warm water stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin which makes us feel calmer and more relaxed. It also helps our sleep as our body temperature first rise to then fall rapidly which will make us sleepy.
We can also light some candles, scented candles with lavender for example can help to create a calming environment for sleep, and pour ourselves some non-caffinated tea like for example chamomile tea that also is soothing.
5. Keep the best temperature for sleep
The cooler nights are great for our sleep. However, the colder temperature outsides mean that most of us turn up the heat indoors. Even if that makes for cozy days it can negatively impact our sleep if our bedrooms are too warm. Studies have shown that our houses today are up to 5°C warmer inside than 40 years ago thanks to central heating and insulating. This can however result in overheating during the night and night sweats. For the best temperature for sleep we should aim at keeping the temperature in our bedrooms low, ideally below 18°C.
Breathing in cold air helps to lower our core temperature and to keep it low, which is critical for a great quality sleep. We don’t want to get so cold that we start to shiver however so the right sleepwear and bedding is important to keep the ideal sleeping temperature.
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