Don’t you just hate your alarm clock in the morning? It’s winter, still dark outside and you press the snooze button 5-6 times until you get out of bed. Why is it so hard to wake up? One reason could be that you are not getting enough sleep. People sleep 0.7 hours more in the winter, but those with winter blues sleep 1.7 hours more and people with SAD report sleeping an average of 2.5 hours more in winter than in the summer. As sleeping in is not an option for most of us, the only way to get more sleep is to go to bed earlier, which can be quite a challenge. People become so accustomed to stressors in everyday life that they find it hard to switch gears when they get ready to sleep at night. So, how do you learn to slow down and fall into a healthy sleeping pattern? The following tips can assist you in making some positive changes.

Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Night and Develop a Bedtime Routine

First, get into the habit of going to bed at about the same time each night and start preparing for sleep at least an hour before your bedtime. Formulating this type of routine will get you acclimated to learning to slow down by letting sleep take its course. A regular bedtime routine will help you feel more relaxed too. Making use of aromatherapy or taking a soothing, warm bath before bedtime can eliminate certain stressors and help you prepare to sleep. Also, try not to drink any beverages a couple hours before you go to bed and go to the bathroom before you adjourn for the day.

Why You Want to Keep the Level of Light Lower at Night

Sleep experts advise that insomniacs learn to sleep in a dark room as even a thin beam of light can cause a disruption in one’s internal clock. This kind of disturbance impacts the production of melatonin – a very sleep-friendly substance. Using blackout shades on the windows and covering the clock can also help to keep any illuminated distractions to a minimum. The reason you want to keep things “darker” at night is because any light interference during this time of the day also affects the body’s circadian rhythm. Modern-day lighting indeed has an effect on the body’s biological clock as any light that travels to the hypothalamus signifies activity rather than sleep.

Keep the Temperature Set at a Cooler Reading

In addition to reducing the amount of light in your room, you also want to make sure that the thermostat is set at a temperature that is conducive to sleep. Therefore, the temperature reading shouldn’t be any more than 70 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale (21 degrees Celsius). People who have trouble sleeping at night often keep their homes too warm and “cozy.” Research suggests that the bedroom temperature should be, on average, around 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius). A too-warm room or too-cold room, for that matter, can lead to a night of restlessness. Because the body’s temperature naturally drops during sleep, it’s better to keep the temperature in your bedroom at a lower reading.

Electro-magnetic Fields Can Also Cause a Restless Night

Interestingly, electro-magnetic fields or EMFs can impact sleep too as they often negatively affect the manufacture of the sleep-and-mood-enhancing hormones, serotonin and melatonin. Some sleep experts even suggest that you turn off all the electricity in your home before going to bed. To determine where electro-magnetic fields exist in your house, you need to perform a test with a device called a gauss meter. The EMF meters are sold online and, on average, sell for about $125.

Don’t Eat Snacks or Watch TV While You’re in Bed

In addition, it’s  important to make sure that you reserve your bedroom primarily for sleeping. Therefore, refrain from watching TV while in bed or from participating in other activities, such as reading news on your laptop or tablet, snacking, or writing. Again, maintain a routine with respect to going to bed and waking each day. That includes the weekends as well. By developing this kind of regimen, you’ll find it simpler to drift off to sleep and to get out of bed in the morning.

Use Discretion When Snacking

Try to avoid snacking before going to bed. If you really need to eat a snack, consume a high-protein food a couple hours before turning in. Don’t eat any snacks that contain sugar or grain as these kinds of foods elevate one’s blood sugar, which also makes it more difficult to fall asleep.