This is the time of year where Mother Nature basically begs us to slow down, rest and restore ourselves. The days get shorter, the nights get longer and the temperatures drop making it less and less desirable to leave our cozy nests; it is time to hibernate.
But, alas! We all have lives to maintain as well. So we must embrace slowing down while remaining somewhat productive and earning a living. Now that the fall/ winter season is upon us, we may not be able to hide away like the bears and sleep all winter but in honour of this natural period of rest, we can make small and important changes to our bedtime routine to allow for more deep and restorative sleep that you can count on night after night.
1) Maximize Exposure to Light During the Day
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin production is controlled by light exposure. Your brain should secrete more in the evening, when it’s dark, to make you sleepy, and less during the day when it’s light and you want to stay awake and alert. However, many aspects of modern life can disrupt your body’s natural production of melatonin and with it your sleep-wake cycle.
Spending long days in an office away from natural light, for example, can impact your daytime wakefulness and make your brain tired. Then bright lights at night—especially from hours spent in front of the TV or computer screen—can suppress your body’s production of melatonin and make it harder to sleep.
- Get outside at lunchtime and soak up the light of day
- Be near windows and natural light sources as much as possible
- Limit bright light in the evening
- Make sure your room is dark when you are ready to sleep (i.e. turn of electronics, tv's and night lights)
- Use a relaxing eye cover/weighted eye pillow to prepare yourself for sleep
2) Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
A cozy, relaxing bedtime routine sends a powerful signal to your brain that it’s time to wind down and let go of the day...If you make a consistent effort to unwind before bed, you will sleep easier and more deeply.
- Have a bath (for additional restorative benefits, throw some epsom salt and essential oils in while you're at it)
- Stretch and/ or meditate
- A light yoga sequence and/ or even 10-15 mins of meditation (outside of your bedroom) can help calm the body and the mind and prepare it for a nurturing sleep.
- Keep the noise down
- Limit the volume of music and the tv. If you can’t avoid or eliminate noise from barking dogs, loud neighbors, city traffic, or other people in your household, try masking it with recordings of soothing sounds, or soft music/ white noise. Headphones work too!
- Sip herbal tea
- Avoid big meals before bed and try a light snack with a cup of herbal tea to wind down
- Read a book by soft light
Also, try to be as consistent as possible with your sleep schedule; going to bed and waking up around the same time each day will help get your body into a good sleep routine.
3) Make a Cozy, Comfy Bed!
The bed is so important! It is a sacred space of retreat where we go to dream and recharging our batteries. We spend a significant amount of time in our bed so, its worth investing in good quality and comfort as well as in making it as appealing and cozy as possible.
You should have enough room to stretch and turn comfortably. If you often wake up with a sore back or an aching neck, you may need to invest in a new mattress or a try a different pillow. Experiment with different levels of mattress firmness, foam toppers or feather beds, and pillows that provide more or less support.
Buy sheets, pillows and a fluffy duvet that makes you happy and that you can't wait to slip into at the end of the day.
4) Reserve Your Bedroom For Sleep & Sex
If you associate your bed with things like work or errands, it will be harder to wind down at night. Use your bed only for sleep and sex. That way, when you go to bed, your body gets a powerful cue: it’s time to either nod off or be romantic.
5) Drift Off & Wake Up with Intention
As we drift off to sleep and before we rise from a deep sleep we are in a very receptive "twilight" period known as a theta brain state. Theta is the realm of our subconscious mind where all of our limiting beliefs, patterns and deep-seated programs reside and in this state of mind, we can have powerful effects on them. Before sleep is the perfect time to state an affirmation or "I Am" statement. For example, a limiting belief might be "there is never enough" right before you drift to sleep you can affirm "there is unlimited abundance" or "I am surrounding by abundance".
Wake up slowly and gently. Set an alarm that does not shock the system but that gently invites your back to waking life. Let a beautiful instrumental piece be the first thing you hear in the morning and then snooze for a few minutes before you actually get out of bed and again make the most of this receptive brain state by again stating your affirmation or "I Am" statement.
Wishing you lots of rest & relaxation this fall/ winter season!