The Brookhaven Retreat blog has been alight with excitement for autumn. Now that we are in October and the chilly days of Fall have finally arrived, so too has the diminished sunlight. Soon, every autumn leaf will be aglow with the late-afternoon sunset. Gone will be the endless days of summer, replaced with chill and a host of new activities to enjoy.
The change in light, temperature, activities and length of day can throw off our sleep cycles in autumn; as our schedules shift around the season, so too do our sleep cycles. Here are some tips to keep in mind if you find yourself having trouble sleeping.
1. Reduce caffeine and nicotine: Both of these substances are stimulants that can keep you awake at night. Because caffeine can stay in your system for 14 hours or longer, it is wise to limit consumption to the morning, if at all.
2. Develop a pre-sleep ritual: This is one of the most important things women learn in residential treatment. Soothing activities before bed allow the mind to calm itself and prepare for sleep. Relaxing pre-sleep activities can include a hot bath, reading a book or doing relaxation or mindfulness exercises.
3. Remove distractions: Using the bedroom for work or entertainment can shatter its relaxing effect on the mind. Avoid engaging in phone conversations, working on the computer or watching television in the bedroom. In fact, removing electronics from the room entirely can make a significant difference in sleep quality.
4. Make the bedroom a sanctuary: Keeping all aspects of a bedroom soothing and comforting helps lull us to sleep faster. Make sure your bedroom remains at a comfortable temperature, that light is minimal and that there are no distracting noises (from cell phones or other electronics, for example) to disturb you.
5. If you cannot fall asleep: Leave the bed if you cannot sleep after half an hour. Do something soothing such as reading a relaxing book or engaging in mindfulness exercises. As soon as you feel tired, return to bed.
6. Don’t stress: Most importantly, do not feel pressured to fall asleep when you are in bed. This anxiety can cause sleep to elude you. Accept your wakefulness and practice mindfulness to prevent judgmental thoughts from disturbing your peace.
Engaging in exercise and eating well also helps us achieve sleep more easily. So take a long walk to enjoy the shift in temperature. Enjoy the bounty of this harvest season. And most of all sleep tight!