Winter Self-Care Guide: Sleep  

We’ve meditated, journaled and exercised so far this winter on our self-care journey here on A Healthier Michigan. And now it’s time for something a little more difficult: sleep.  

Sleep has the power to make or break your day. And getting a good night’s rest doesn’t start when you hit the lights at the end of the night: you need to lay the groundwork for good sleep throughout the day. This is especially important if you have had trouble sleeping recently or are experiencing a period of increased stress or anxiety. 

Experts recommend adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep can help lower your risk of chronic diseases, support a healthy immune system, improve your mental health, increase performance and focus and help you manage your weight. And going to bed between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. could also lower your risk of heart health issues, according to a new study. 

If you wake often at night, and/or find it hard to get back to sleep – chances are getting good sleep is a sore subject for you. It’s also likely that you may have tried extreme measures to cope, like using substances to try and stay asleep. But substances – especially illicit drugs or alcohol – can cause more harm than good. 

 To set yourself up for success, start with what you put into your body: cut out caffeine after 3 p.m. during the day, stay hydrated and try to eat a mix of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats and proteins. Here are some ideas to get started: 

Find ways to manage your stress throughout the day through walking or exercising so you’re not still wound up at 8 p.m. Here are some tips:  

After dinner, start to cut out work distractions. Turn off the TV and put away your phone at least an hour before bedtime and try reading a book instead. Set up your sleep environment: a cooler room will help your body fall asleep, as will a white noise machine or fan. Some people find weighted blankets help them relax. If you need to, buy a new mattress or pillows to make yourself more comfortable, or invest in some room-darkening curtains. Put fresh sheets on your bed and make it inviting and calm. 

If you’re in need of a snack after dinner, steer away from sugar, caffeine or alcohol – all substances that could cause you to have trouble falling asleep. A light snack that’s rich in carbohydrates is best. Some great choices include:  

  • Cherries  
  • Whole grain cereal that’s low in sugar, topped with milk 
  • Almonds  
  • Whole-grain crackers  
  • Pineapple  
  • Caffeine-free green tea  

And when it’s time to wake up, hitting the snooze button in the morning can actually backfire on your progress to a future good night’s sleep.  

Establishing a healthy sleep routine is an act of self-care that supports your goals in other aspects of your life, and better allow your mind and body to tackle the challenges that each day brings. 

Each week during January and February 2022, we’ll be featuring a self-care technique to encourage you to try something new and make time for yourself this winter. Follow along on AHealthierMichigan.org. 

Winter Self-Care Guide Archive  

Photo credit: Getty Images

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