Alaska Sleep Education Center

Relax, Embrace the Cozy Season and Sleep Better During the Process

Posted by Linda Gimmeson on Oct 19, 2020 2:30:00 AM

Mt. Fuji in autumn

You can feel it in the air. The breezes are getting cooler, the angle of the light is changing, and the sun is sinking earlier by the day. The cozy season is coming, with dropping temperatures, shorter days, surrounding yourself in blankets as you sleep, and schools in full swing. Even holiday preparation is starting for some people. Whether you participate in the events of the season a little or a lot, there's a universal need to feel warm, safe, and connected during this time of year — to feel cozy. There are many ways to get there that don't involve a lot of expense or bother. Here are several.

1. Create Rituals

When you think of getting relaxed, you might imagine a glass of wine or a spa weekend. That's true enough, but your ritual can be much simpler and an integral part of a daily routine — and doesn't have to involve alcohol. Find a way to separate the demands of work and/or child rearing from quiet comforts. Make it a ritual that you look forward to. Oftentimes, relaxing right before you sleep is the best time. It might be changing into your favorite slippers, or zoning out with a game. The most important thing is being able to switch off — completely. Healthy relaxants can help you turn down the inner volume, too.

2. Hit the Shower

The therapeutic benefits of warm water are well known. It's as easy as turning on the spigot. Hit the shower, and be sure the water's relatively warm. It takes just a few minutes of pulsating heat to feel tension wash away. That feeling of being enveloped by warmth can set off body and brain responses that are similar to that of receiving emotional warmth, lifting your mood. A warm shower right before you sleep is also a great way to feel relaxed and ensure a cozy night in bed. Try to stay in the shower for no longer than ten minutes to avoid drying out your skin.

3. Eat With Loved Ones 

Want to feel a sense of real belonging, comfort, and connection? Turn off social media, and turn on social eating. The act of sharing and eating food together releases a surge of calming chemicals, most notably oxytocin, which calms and bonds. Communal eating is a way to communicate to others that they're a valued part of your family-like network — and to receive that reassurance, as well. Modify as needed during flu season, and take sensible precautions at all times.

4. Forget the Fuss 

It seems like a simple concept, but it's crucial: Don't fuss over things. Whether you're solo, gathering with one, or interacting with many, the axiom is the same: Perfection is overrated. Whatever is a manageable level of preparation for you is where you should set the bar. Sharing some hot bread from the takeout bakery along with herbal tea can be every bit as nourishing as putting together a five-course meal. The important thing is your level of comfort throughout the experience. Then, you'll communicate comfort and ease to your guest. That's far more important than being impressive, and a lot less exhausting.

5. Get a Massage

Your best bet: Receive regular messages from someone else, preferably a professional who observes appropriate hygienic guidelines, or a loved one. Both have their place and can help you feel calmer, more connected and safe in your body, and healthier. Not to mention other powerful benefits. Self-massage is helpful, too. Reach around and knead your trapezius muscle, nape of your neck, and the surrounding area. The act of manually stimulating pressure receptors releases a natural antidepressant — serotonin. Touch is a basic human need. Attend it and see that you’ll be able to get a much better night’s sleep.

6. Get Distracted

If something in your thought life is riling you up, distract yourself from it as best you can. This assumes you're directly dealing with the source of the thoughts as needed. Stressful thoughts often come from assuming that something bad is going to happen; and that "bad" thing rarely materializes. Focusing on positive or neutral thoughts can help stop the spiral. If you easily forget the good things in your life, put them down in a journal or planner — anywhere that you look often. Constructively distracting yourself can also have to do with changing your physiology — anything from cool compresses to weighted blankets can help.

7. Laugh it Up 

The saying has a lot of truth in it: Laughter is the best medicine. Increased oxygen intake and contracting stomach muscles promote a cascade of feel-good processes, including endorphin release. Even if you're short of time, just a few minutes of deep laughter can be calming. Don't be afraid to select something ridiculous on YouTube (like slapstick comedy) or your favorite late-night show. Whatever works, try it... and enjoy it! It's fun to share the laughter with others, too.

8. Stroll Outdoors 

Especially in times when more people are housebound, get outside for a brisk walk. The change in environment and the naturally calming scene of trees and vegetation will soothe you — and the effect is Cats sleeping in fall leaves.especially potent if you're able to go barefoot or in leather-soled moccasins on bare earth. It also helps inoculate against stress and traumatic experiences. Outdoor exercise reduces anxiety and helps you maintain an even keel when faced with distressing events of all types. Take advantage of daylight hours as much as you can during the fall and winter season. You'll notice a difference in your mood and outlook. Be sure to dress for your weather conditions, and include plenty of layers you can adjust as needed.

9. Get Up and Socialize

If you're working, program some type of break reminder into your phone, watch, or computer, pay attention to the alert, then get up, and text, chat on the phone, or grab a friend for coffee and a relaxing no-work break. It may seem counterintuitive, but you'll end up being more productive. The feeling of comfort and connection from sharing about everyday life is vital as you move toward the colder season when people aren't out and about as much and the holidays beckon with their joys and sorrows.

10. Soothe Your Feet 

Soothing and caring for your feet has beneficial effects that can be felt throughout your body and mind. Try a foot spa. Dunk your feet up to the ankles in reasonably hot water in a tub or plastic bin, adding a couple of teaspoons of baking soda and a handful of Epsom salts. Sit back for fifteen minutes and do whatever's most relaxing for you at the time, perhaps an essential oil massage or soothing face mask. You'll notice circulation improving, swelling going down, and your whole body releasing stress.

Relaxing and embracing the cozy season can bring comfort and joy to your life as well as great sleep every night. Try these tips to get started!

The leaves are turning yellow, the sun is setting earlier and Autumn is right around the corner.

It’s imperceptible at first, but before you know it, you’ll really start to notice that it’sgetting dark earlier and earlier in the evening. Golden autumn afternoons, fall foliage and cooler temperatures are a welcome change for most people after a long hot summer, but the change in seasons could also lead to sleep problems and other behavioral troubles for adults, teens and children.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects an estimated six percent of the population.  The condition is brought on by a lack of sunlight. A person with SAD can experience unexplained fatigue as daylight hours grow shorter into the fall and winter months. Other symptoms could include increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, and craving carbohydrates and sugary foods, so-called “comfort foods.”

Individuals who believe they have SAD should consult their physician, but there are steps that families can take on their own to encourage healthy sleep patterns as the seasons change, including:

  • Make seasonal adjustments, if necessary, but set regular sleeping and waking times and stick with the schedule, even on weekends
  • Get plenty of exercise outdoors, to maximize exposure to daylight
  • Ensure your home sleeping environment and bedding are clean and appropriate to the season
  • Eat a well-balanced diet with sufficient vitamins and minerals

One area which is often adversely affected by these seasonal changes is our sleep. There are a lot of aspects of having a good night’s rest which are under our control. But changes in temperature, atmospheric pressure, precipitation, and humidity can have both a positive and negative impact on our rest.

Stop Seasonal Sleep Distress With Alaska Sleep Clinic

If you feel that you or a family member has a sleep disorder, contact Alaska Sleep Clinic today to speak with a board-certified sleep specialist and receive a free sleep assessment.  Also, you can click the link below to download our FREE e-book that will introduce you to sleep studies and how they can help improve your life.

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