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One of my favorite places to be when it's cold and dark outside is in bed. Yep, that means when those winter months roll around, I have to fight the urge to snuggle in for the night starting around 6pm. When I do eventually get to call it a night, there are ways to help ensure that I get the best sleep possible. Each season brings unique challenges when it comes to getting a really restful night's sleep. Shorter days, dry air, and cold temperatures can all affect your sleep patterns. If you struggle to get really restful sleep in the winter, try a few (or all) of these suggestions.
Keep Your Sleep Schedule
For those like me who would be more than happy to hit the sack according to the sun, it is best to resist. Try to maintain your normal sleep schedule in order to keep your sleep rhythms in sync. If you generally go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 6am, stick to that even though all that darkness outside is telling you to spend more time in bed. Whenever possible, do not deviate too much from your sleep schedule on weekends. It can be tempting to stay up and binge on your favorite show and then sleep in the next day, but this can really reduce the quality of your sleep. Essential oils can be useful in letting your body know when it is time to wind down or perk up. Try keep a bottles of Peppermint and Wild Orange on your nightstand. When your alarm goes off, place a drop of each oil in your hands and inhale for a natural energy boost. To help drift off at night, diffuse or inhale any of the following essential oils:
It can be tricky to keep up your exercise routine in the winter - especially if you exersise outdoors. However, it is important to stay on track. If weather makes outdoor workouts impossible, consider joining a no contract gym for a few months or find some free workouts online to sustain you until you can get back outside. Regular exercise will help you maintain your sleep rhythms and may help fend off Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) if you are prone to it. If you need a little help finding the energy to exercise in the winter, try inhaling an energizing essential oil like Peppermint , Citrus Bliss Invigorating Blend, or Motivate Encouraging Blend. Any citrus essential oil can do the trick as well.
Get Your Vitamin D
Whenever you can, get outside and soak up some vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D has many health benefits including enhancing sleep. Studies indicate that a lack of this important nutrient can shorten overall duration of your sleep and reduce its positive impact on your body. So, try to spend at least 15-20 minutes a day in the sun whenever possible throughout the winter.
Seek Out Light
As mentioned above, sunlight gives you a dose of Vitamin D, but even if sunlight isn't an option, make sure you are keeping things bright during the day. If it is still dark when you wake up, turn on lights in your home for a boost of energy and to let your body know that it is morning and time to get going. Adequate lighting during the day will continue to remind your body it is time to be awake and productive.
I'm sure you are familiar with how cold air tends to dry out your skin and lips. It has the same effect on your nasal passages which can reduce the quality of your sleep by causing congestion and less effective breathing patterns. Drink lots of water during the day. Add a couple of drops of essential oil to your water for enhanced taste. Lemon is a favorite of mine, but in the winter I'll often add On Guard Protective Blend to help boost my immunity as well. (Read Essential Oil Enhanced Water for more water add in ideas.) To moisten the air in your room, consider running a humidifier at night while you are sleeping. Or, try a cold water diffuser on your nightstand to add moisture and sleep enhancing essential oils to the air. Add any of the essential oils listed above under "Keep Your Sleep Schedule".
Eat a Light Dinner
Eating a heavy meal too close to bedtime means your body will be working hard while you are sleeping and will not get the rest that it needs. Consider making your midday meal the heaviest of the day. Timing is important too. Try to eat your last meal of the day around 4 hours prior to bedtime.
Stay Cool at Night
Your impulse may be to keep the temperature in your home or office high so you can stay nice and toasty warm. Or, to let it get quite cold at night to save a little money on heating bills. However, we are better off following the "Goldilocks" way of thinking on this one and sticking with not too hot and not too cold. 65 degrees Fahrenheit is a good target sleeping temperature year round. Also, if you find that cold feet are disrupting your sleep, try wearing a pair of cozy socks to bed. If you do require extra blankets, layer lighter blankets so you can add or remove them to adjust your sleeping temperature as necessary.
For more information on how to use essential oil to enhance your sleep, read "Better Sleep with Essential Oils".