Weathering winter: Strategies for coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
Many people struggle to get a good night’s rest, which can lead to frustration and negative effects on your wellbeing.
Our primary health care professionals stress the personalized nature of sleep — the amount of sleep we need varies from individual to individual. By incorporating sleep hygiene strategies that fit your needs, you can improve the quality of your sleep leading to improved mood, energy levels and overall health.
Spending time in natural light can play an important role in improving your sleep. Natural light affects your circadian rhythm — the body’s internal clock — and the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
Regular, daily physical activity can also help you fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper sleep. Be sure to give your body time to wind down by finishing exercises a few hours before bedtime.
Establishing a calming bedtime routine can signal your body that it’s time to sleep. Consider activities like reading a book, taking a warm bath or meditation to calm your mind and prepare it for rest. Avoid stimulating activities and substances like watching TV, using electronic devices, caffeine or alcohol.
Trying to sleep can create a paradox – the harder you try, the less likely you are to fall asleep. Spending too much time in bed not sleeping can associate your bed with feelings of worry and anxiety.
If you find yourself having trouble falling asleep, pre-planning an activity out of bed can help you refocus your energy until your body is ready to rest. Covering your clock is also a good way to avoid feeling anxious about the time.
Creating a comfortable sleep environment is important for having a restful sleep. Eliminate sources of noise, light and keep your room at a slightly lower temperature.
Taking opportunities to build healthier sleep hygiene can improve general wellbeing. If you’re concerned about your sleep habits, visit your family doctor.