Settling Down for a Long Winter’s Nap

In Chinese medicine, winter is viewed as a time for renewal as our energy goes into storage and our bodies rejuvenate in preparation for the activity of spring. When the hours of darkness increase, it tells us we need to sleep longer. If you are having trouble sleeping, here are some helpful tips:

1. Relaxing Rituals

Nighttime is yin time when your body repairs and regenerates itself, and your spirit and heart need to be calm. Excessive worry, anxiety and depression disturbs the spirit and activates the mind. To soothe your spirit and induce sleep, try soaking your feet in Epsom salts for 15 minutes, writing down all your thoughts or practicing meditation.

2. Food Affects Your Sleep

When you eat late, you wake up tired because your body was digesting your dinner while you slept. Do not eat anything for at least three hours before bedtime. Cut back on eating bacon, cheese, chocolate, ham, potatoes, tomatoes, and sausage. These foods contain tyramine, which inhibits neurochemicals and can cause insomnia.

Eat for sleep! Try eating grains for dinner; as carbohydrates often make you sleepy. Another snooze snack is a warm cup of milk, which is rich in the amino acid tryptophan. Or eat one cup of plain yogurt an hour before bedtime.

3. A Peaceful Place for Sleep

Create a quiet, cozy atmosphere, and keep the décor minimal and lighting dim. Lavender, vanilla, and green apple aromas help induce sleep and are ideal in a scented candle or heated essential oil. Keep pets outside the bedroom, as they can prevent you from sleeping.

4. Exercise Enables Sleep

In general, people who exercise sleep better than those who don’t. Physical activity improves sleep by altering brain chemistry. Exercising moderately three times a day, combined with meditation or tai chi in the evening, will help you fall and stay asleep. Do not exercise for at least two hours before bedtime.

5. Herbs to Sleep Tight

Drink valerian or passionflower (or passiflora) tea every night before bedtime for one month. Infusions of traditional Chinese herbs such as jujube seeds, bamboo shavings and oyster shell soothe the mind and spirit.

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