Though most modern schedules do not allow it, it is true that in the winter months, you should actually sleep more. Follow the rhythms of natural light. That would mean longer waking hours and more activity in the summer, more sleep and rest in the winter. This is one of the basic cycles that our bodies strive to move through and, when observed, that benefits our health.
A full night of restful sleep restores energy, heals the body and balances the hormonal system. Anything short of this will lead to the development of symptoms: mental fogginess, aches & pains, hormonal fluctuations, fatigue, and mood problems. Chronic sleep deprivation can be one of the most debilitating health challenges to face. Sleeplessness results from too few hours, disturbed sleep.
Sleep has a number of positive effects on your health. More specifically, restorative sleep returns your hormonal and nervous systems back to balance. But, good sleep has also been shown to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, help to prevent cancer, reduce inflammation and pain, improve your memory, assist in weight loss, reduce your risk for depression and improve your cognitive ability. Yes, sleep actually makes you smarter!
Two distinct physiological functions are required for good sleep, the instinct to fall asleep and the ability to stay asleep.
Suggestions for more restful sleep:
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, dietary sensitivities.
- Only use the bedroom for sleep and sex
- Do not get into bed until you are falling asleep.
- Have a bedtime routine. Prepare yourself for winding down.
- No TV within 1 hour of bedtime, instead journal, read or converse quietly with family.
- Limit food and drink before bed, after 8pm if you go to bed around 11pm.
- Remove all electrical devices from the bedroom (or at least from proximity with the bed) and put the clock out of view.
- Keep your bedroom temperature below 70 degrees. If necessary, stick your feet out of the covers, studies show that hot feet can cause insomnia.
- Sleep in complete darkness (black out curtains and all…).
- If you wake at night and cannot get back to sleep within 5 minutes, get out of bed and do something quiet (no screen time).
- Do not use a loud or shocking alarm to wake you, but also eliminate snoozing. Get up as soon as your alarm goes off.
- Use warming socks, banana tea or another supplement to optimize your circadian rhythm.