It’s tempting to curl up and hibernate through the cold, dark Winter nights but the fact is that one in three us have trouble sleeping. We asked Jo Foster, founder of sleep specialist beauty brand Kiss the Moon to share her tips on how to get the rest you need through the Winter months.
1. Make time to get yourself in to sleep mode
Even a fifteen minute wind down at night can act like a pressure valve, helping you make sense of the day and quieten your mind before bed. Spend the time doing something you love and that makes you feel calm. Take the chance to read a book, listen to music or chat to a friend. Our first choice would be to head straight to the only room in the house with a lock on the door – the bathroom. Run yourself a deep warm bath. Add music and soft lighting and a generous helping of your favourite sleep-inducing bath oil. A bit of pamper time is always good for the soul. The soothing effect of a soak in warm water bath helps to relax muscles and the slight fall in temperature as you step out nudges your body in to sleep mode so helps you to feel ready for bed.
Putting time aside to slow down before bed is the single biggest thing you can do to help yourself sleep better. And who doesn’t want that?
2. Be light smart
Light regulates sleepiness levels. Winter days means darker afternoons and evenings. That means that through the winter we’re reliant on artificial light. The blue light that screens and bulbs emit help to keep us awake through the afternoon as light levels fall, but they also confuse the brain into thinking it’s perpetually daytime so interfere with natural sleep patterns. The trick is knowing when to switch them off. Lower the wattage at night to help you get sleepy and stay away from backlit screens (computers, phones and TVs for example) for at least an hour before you go to bed.
3. Get cosy… but not too cosy!
Temperature is an important factor if you want to sleep comfortably through the night. The scientists have worked out that 19degrees is just right. If your bedroom is too warm you’ll be tossing and turning, throwing off the covers. Too cold and you’ll be shivering in the early hours when the temperature reaches is lowest. Hot water bottles work a treat as they can take the chill off when you first get in bed but then cool down as you sleep and leave it to your body to maintain its own temperature. Bear in mind that we lose heat from our extremities faster than from elsewhere, so if you do feel a chill, investing in a pair of bedsocks is a good call.
4. Eat and drink clever
Shorter days make it tempting to hole up indoors for the evening, curled up with your favourite box set. Trouble is, that evenings in front of the TV can lead us in to the temptation of munching on snack and what we eat and drink before bed impacts on how well we sleep.
If you do feel peckish before bed, choose things that can help you feel sleepy – oats, dairy, nuts, bananas, cherries, turkey in small enough bites that they’ll fill a hole before bedtime without making you feeling heavy are all good options.
Avoid fatty foods as they are harder to digest. And anything sugary will leave you wanting to get up and go when you really need to wind down. Steer clear of anything with caffeine, not just coffee and soft drinks – watch out for it in tea and chocolate too. While alcohol might help you get to sleep it will reduce the quality of the sleep you get, so you’ll wake up feeling rotten if you’ve had a tipple too many or too close to bed.
5. Have a Plan B to hand
For nights when you struggle to drop off, have something by your bedside to help you. Our sense of smell is closely linked to sleep. So soothing essential oil balms are an easy way to lull your senses back in to a slumber. Choose the scent that relaxes you the most. Smell is intuitive so let your nose guide you. While lavender is the most well-known aroma to help you feel sleepy, other calming oils such as jasmine, rose and orange blossom have the same effect.
If your brain won’t switch off, try and distract it. Remember that light stimulates the brain so rather than reading a book, try listening to something to help you drift off. A podcast or a favourite piece of gentle music that you love can work a treat.
6. Stay positive
Darker days can be a downer. Put some time aside each night to help you end the day feeling positive as the evenings get inkier. A natter on the phone with a friend, summing up your day in a diary or some gentle night-time yoga stretches – can all help you go to sleep feeling happier and more content.
Our sense of smell can help here too as it has an amazing power to change our mood. If you are feeling a bit blue as the winter draws in, try Kiss the Moon GLOW After Dark Face Oil. It contains a mood-brightening mix of warm orange, geranium, myrrh and litsea oil – (litsea has been used in Chinese medicine for generations to calm the mind and nudge away negative thoughts). Apply before bed as part of your night-time skincare routine to nourish skin through the colder months and to lift your spirit as you drop off to sleep.
Find out more about the Kiss the Moon range of night-time bath oils, face oils, balms and pillow mists at kissthemoon.com