We are approaching the darkest time of the year when for most people, leaving for work is done in the dark and coming home also happens in the dark of night. The lack of daylight and exposure to the winter sun can wreck havoc with one’s sleep as it can alter our circadian rhythm and with that, come a host of other troubles like daytime tiredness, problems with concentration and lower mood.
During this dark time, it’s more important than ever to really focus on your sleep routine and the number of hours you get to Zzzzzz.
Don’t fret! There are lot of things that you can do about it, such as focusing on preparing your body for sleep well in advance by not using technology that emits blue light (computer, telly or phones) at least an hour before bedtime. Making sure your bed is comfortable, clean and preferably with a cool temperature (might want to try to leave the window open for a while before bedtime) and if you’re the worrying kind, don’t take your worries to bed – instead write down everything that you have thought about on a piece of paper and keep it away from your bedroom. By preparing for sleep time with turning down the lights well before you are planning to go to bed, also allows your body to start producing melatonin, which is essential for sleep.
In summary, prep for bedtime, an hour before:
No technology (instead, read a book)
Tidy up your bed from any surplus items (clothes etc)
Leave the window open to freshen up the air and increase oxygen content
Write all worries and stressors down on a notepad and keep out of bedroom
Turning lights down, dim, turn off or sit in candlelight
Wear comfortable clothing
Eat a banana or a teaspoon of pumpkin seeds
Have a glass of water by the bed
According to scientists, sleep deprivation can also cause people to consume more calories than they would eat if they weren’t tired. Sleep deprived, you may find yourself reaching for more fatty foods instead of favouring quality protein or carbohydrates. The study conducted found that people would ingest an average of 385 kcal more than normal, after poor nights sleep. That is quite a bit of calories! It’s equivalent to 4,5 slices of bread.
Losing sleep can alter your mood and make you choose options you would normally not consider. Understanding this makes for a good realisation, you can normally influence how much you sleep but even when you can’t, you can still manage the choices you make when you realise you are sleep deprived and due to that would be more likely to reach for an unhealthier or heavier option. Mindfulness works wonders here.
Be kind to yourself, be mindful and really prioritise sleep - it does miracles to your wellbeing.