How to wake up feeling well-rested despite shorter days
As the year winds down, our days grow shorter and there is less and less sunlight available. The clocks have fallen back, causing us to lose even more sun in the evening.
It's always hard adjusting to less sun. Even though this happens every year, it always seems to sneak up. Fewer daylight hours translates to less energy, motivation, and a weakened immune system due to infrequent activity and poor sleep.
We all need to be proactive in the darker winter months, creating a world around us that allows us to stay invigorated, get a full night's sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed -- even when we wake up in the dark.
(The links below will take you to products that we love after extensively testing and researching their effectiveness.)
Restful sleep starts before bed
It's tempting to scan your phone before hitting the sheets, but every minute you do so is another minute of disrupted sleep. The screen's light has been found to increase alertness and delay the release of sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. If you insist on enjoying a screen before bed, consider a Kindle with an adaptive front light that will cater to before-bed reading while letting you turn off the overheads.
If you'll look at your phone around bedtime, try a pair of blue light blocking glasses. They may not completely get rid of the blue light, but these cheap specs will help keep your sleep patterns on track. As a reminder, it's best to put away your phone 30 minutes before falling asleep.
Make the most of your sleep
Getting a good night's sleep is essential to staying healthy and energized. As we do indeed spend a good part of our lives asleep (and presumably in a bed), a high-quality mattress is a worthwhile investment in wellness that provides comfort and support each and every night.
Your head needs to be as comfortable as the rest of your body, and that calls for a proper pillow that provides both support and softness for maximum relaxation. Most people sleep better when the air is a bit cold, but you'll still want to stay warm under a thick, fluffy blanket. The cozier, the better.
As an alternative or companion to a standard blanket is a weighted one. Weighted blankets can help alleviate stress and anxiety by creating pressure on the body, which in turn helps release serotonin in the brain while offering a protective, calming feel. These are especially useful in winter months when seasonal depression may creep in.
For those lighter sleepers or anyone who lives in an apartment or on a busy street, it may be worth investing in a white noise machine. By creating a steady, innocuous audio stream, any sudden noises are masked, helping you keep calm and stay asleep.
The winter months can get exceptionally dry. This means your skin and membranes lack proper moisture, which can lead to sore throats or itchy skin and exacerbate any cold or respiratory issues. A humidifier will add moisture to the air, and it'll also help your plants stay healthy too.
Develop a morning routine
Set yourself up for success by putting a water bottle beside your bed before you fall asleep. This way, you can wake up with a refreshing glass of water. It's important to stay hydrated throughout the darker, colder months, and it's best to start off your morning with water before you have breakfast or coffee.
For added convenience in the morning, check out a coffee machine that you can set to brew at a certain time. You can fill it up with grinds and water at night and have it ready to go in the morning. The aroma can be an invigorating way to begin your day and help get you out of bed.
Waking up when it's dark outside can be disorienting. A dawn simulator aims to solve that problem. They offer a lot: white noise and ambient sounds help you fall asleep and stay asleep, while the light simulates a sunrise to let your body know it's time to get going. You should notice a big difference in your mornings pretty quickly.
Set yourself up for success
A fitness tracker is a convenient and comprehensive way to monitor your exercise and sleep patterns. A Fitbit, for example, keeps you up to date on your fitness goals and details where your sleep was healthy and where it was lacking. If your sleep is restless, consider noise, screens, and other factors that need to be addressed.
An essential oil diffuser is an inexpensive device that can be used throughout the day and night to add moisture and aroma to the air. In the morning, you can use peppermint, for example, to feel energized, while in the evening lavender may help you relax.
As it can be particularly hard to get out and exercise during the winter months, it's important to find ways to stay active at home. Yoga helps work out your core while improving balance and coordination. It also can help you both start up and wind down your day. A yoga practice clears the mind, helps you focus, and gives you a necessary respite from the day.
In this dreary time of year, look to all your senses to keep you feeling refreshed. A Bluetooth speaker is a handy item to keep music with you at all times, whether you need to be motivated, soothed, or otherwise distracted. A speaker may also be particularly useful at night if you're using ambient sounds to fall asleep or in the morning should you want to wake up with some energizing tunes.
Anthony Marcusa is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.