You might think long winter nights would provide an easy ticket to dreamland, but sometimes you need a bit of help drifting off even as snowflakes are drifting past your window. Luckily there are plenty of steps you can take to help promote restful sleep.
Prepare for a Peaceful Night During the Day
Daytime activities can set you up for successful sleep. Look out your window or even step outside as soon as you get up in the morning so that the exposure to natural sunlight can help regulate your circadian rhythm. Make sure to get some exercise during the morning or afternoon (but not too close to bedtime!) and don’t overindulge at dinner. Avoid caffeine after lunchtime and remember that alcohol is a common cause of sleep disruption. Stay out of your bedroom as much as possible during the day and never work in bed; the goal is to train your brain to immediately associate your bed with sleep.
Create a Bedroom Oasis
As the name suggests, the primary feature of your bedroom should be a welcoming bed. Make every effort to remove clutter and especially work items from your bedroom so that you aren’t jolted by daytime concerns the moment you walk in. Consider your bed linens: would you be more comfortable if you swapped crisp cotton sheets for ones made of t-shirt soft jersey (or vice-versa)? Are you due for some new pillows? Would a weighted blanket help you feel snug, or do you prefer your covers to be airy-light? Do any of your most tranquil memories conjure up a specific color or pattern that you can replicate with bedclothes or even wall art?
Focus on your bedroom’s environment. Many people find they sleep better when the ambient temperature is a bit cooler than they’re accustomed to during the day, so don’t hesitate to call a heating service if your furnace or HVAC system isn’t performing as well as you would like. In many areas the air can be noticeably drier in winter than in summer, so a small humidifier may be helpful. Lavender and chamomile scents are especially popular for promoting peaceful sleep; if you don’t want to use essential oil diffusers or air fresheners you might try washing your pajamas and bed linens with scented detergent.
Depending on your budget and the physical aspects of your home, you may have several different options for dealing with intrusive light or noise during the night. Blackout shades and curtains are widely available; physical soundproofing is a more involved project but one you may well decide is worthwhile. If you prefer a simpler solution, earplugs and sleep masks come in a dizzying array of styles, sizes, and materials.
Indulge in a Pre-Bedtime Routine
Start relaxing and winding down an hour or two before you plan to go to bed. Turn off screens (or if you must use an electronic device, consider investing in a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses). If you’re stressed about tomorrow’s to-do list or have other worries, take a few minutes to jot down your concerns and an idea or two for how to deal with them, and then firmly tell yourself you don’t need to think about them anymore tonight. Then sink into your favorite calming activity, whether it’s a hot bubble bath, light conversation with your family, snuggling with your pets, or a cup of hot cocoa and a book beside the fire or under a plush blanket. If you’re not planning to eat or drink anything, it can be helpful to change into your pajamas and brush your teeth before you settle down so that you can move directly from your couch to your bed without any interruptions.
Just a few simple strategies can help you find cozy winter sleep. Nighty-night!