Sara Godwin

It’s Winter: Sleep Well!

In Fitness, Health, Travel on December 22, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Winter’s long nights make it easier to sleep well because people sleep better when it’s dark. Lack of sleep has some really nasty downsides: Fatigue, irritability, lower productivity, and a greater likelihood of driving accidents.  Yet even when people feel tired, they often have trouble getting to sleep. Here are some techniques for getting a good night’s sleep.

1. Prepare for tomorrow tonight.  Lay out your clothes (and the children’s), make sure your car keys, your purse, your wallet,  and transit passes are set out in front of the door so you can’t walk out without them.  Make a list of what needs to be done the next day.  Put any dirty dishes in the dishwasher so the kitchen is ready for you to make breakfast when you wake up in the morning. Mute the ring on your cell phone, and charge it in any room but your bedroom.

2. Turn on the bed.  Electric bed warmers that go under the sheets are widely available on-line and at shops like Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Just push the button to the setting you like best.  I generally set it on high, and turn it to low just as I crawl into my warm, toasty bed.  Flannel sheets are soft and warm, and the help you — and the bed — stay warm through the night.

3. Take a hot shower. It’s amazing how hot water relaxes your body and rinses away tension and stress.  A warm bath or a soak in the hot tub will accomplish the same thing.  Your muscles relax, and your head follows suit.  Besides, it’s especially pleasant to go to bed feeling fresh and clean.

4.  Put on your pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers.  They should all meet the criteria of clean, soft, and warm. Bribe your partner — chocolate usually works — to rub any or all of the above: Scalp and face; neck and shoulders; feet and calves.  In the absence of a bribable party, try one of those massage vibrators with round or concave discs.  (They are especially effective on the face and forehead when your head feels tight and stuffy.)

5. Make yourself a warm drink. Hot chocolate, a fragrant herbal tea, or simple hot water with a slice of lemon are all perfect for sipping quietly. While you’re sipping, breathe slowly and deeply.

6. Brush your teeth, brush your hair, set the alarm clock, turn the bed warmer to ‘low’, and snuggle into your warm, comfy bed.  Make sure you get to bed early enough to get eight  or nine hours of sleep. That means into  bed by  9:30 or 10:00 pm, up and out at 6:am or 7:am.  Adjust as needed.

7. Close your eyes and relax each part of your body individually: Head, face, shoulders, arms, torso, legs, and feet. Mutter a mantra as you do this. “I release, I relax, I let go”  works. Breathe slowly and deeply.

8. Think of five things that make you happy or five things for which you’re grateful.

9. Kiss somebody good-night.

10. Drift off.  Sleep well!

Having a bedtime ritual helps people fall asleep more easily.  Having a place that’s dark, warm, comfortable, and quiet helps, too.  If  there is  noise from neighbors or traffic, mask it with soft music or white noise recordings of rippling water or waves lapping.    Shut out really loud noise with earplugs.  If stress and worry are keeping you awake, remind yourself that whatever the issues are, worrying won’t resolve them. Comfort yourself that a good night’s sleep and a new day very well may. You will waken to a bright morning feeling refreshed. Have a great day!

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