We are now over half way through Winter and the evenings have been getting ever so slightly lighter since December the 21st. This date is officially known as the Winter solstice and the longest night in the northern hemisphere. However, it is still essentially dark by the time work is finished at the office for yet another day and still considerably dark in the mornings when the majority of people are getting up for the day.
This can play havoc with one's body clock especially if you work in a typical 9-5 job which is based indoors as you will hardly see any daylight at all. This is also the time when many people suffer from low mood with the lack of daylight being a major factor.
It can be extremely difficult to get your body into a healthy and beneficial rhythm. Winter insomnia can be a symptom of the well known seasonal affective disorder and without a good night's sleep, it is impossible to feel refreshed for the following day.
So, is there anything that can be done to help improve sleep? The answer is definitely yes and it should be a resolution for the start of the New Year to improve your own sleeping routine which will have untold benefits to both mental and physical health. No one wants to be yawning at their desk so here are five tips which may help aid a restful sleep.
Have a routine and stick to it. The average adult needs around eight hours of sleep each night yet statistics prove that many people struggle to attain this for varying reasons. Have a regular bedtime and a routine leading up to it, aiming to adhere to the same bedtime each evening that you have work the next day.
Keep light to a minimum. It may be tempting to keep a light on especially if daylight is eluding you due to the time of year and your work pattern but artificial lighting is not beneficial to sleep and will invariably have the opposite effect. Melatonin is a natural ‘sleep hormone’ and is responsible for helping to promote tiredness and sleep. It increases with evening darkness and is produced in the pineal gland - with light causing cessation of the hormone.
The same rules apply for television screens, mobile phones, ipads and any other gadgets that may be in your room - turn them off or remove them from the bedroom altogether. The light omitted from these are proven to inhibit sleep.
Do not eat large meals just before going to bed. Your body needs to digest the food and as there is a significant correlation between the stomach and the brain, they both need to be able to relax.
Investing in quality bedding, pillows and a good mattress will keep you comfortable, giving you a sense of luxury and relaxation as well as regulating your temperature throughout the night.
Find something that relaxes you and that you actually enjoy, prior to going to bed. This simple yet efficient step can be anything from a warm bath, lavender spray on your pillows, reading a chapter of a light book or listening to a sleep inducing specified meditation audio -whatever works for you. Work is often noisy and hectic so it is important that you find something that puts you into a state of quiet relaxation to gently bring your day to a close.