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6 Winter Sleep Rituals

Senior woman sleeping in bed


“And mamma in her ’kerchief, and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,”

These lines, from the poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” by Clement Clarke Moore, have been making readers feel cozy since 1823. Feel the chill in the air; the warm, fluffy comforter; the narrator’s wife next to him…this guy is about to sleep for 10 solid hours and enjoy every minute of it!

With modern heating and insulation, we don’t generally need to use sleep caps anymore, but the idea of preparing for a great night’s sleep with a ritual is as important as it was in the 19th century, and probably more so, as we have more distractions. For this week’s Healthy Habits, let’s look at ways to prepare for a long winter’s nap.

Set a schedule. Sleep experts agree that it’s key to have a regular bedtime. Half an hour before that set time, start your relaxing routine. Next…

Have a nightcap. Save your Châteauneuf-du-Pape for dinner, as alcohol can wake you up a few hours later. Try a warm cup of Golden Milk, to stave off winter woes like colds, flu and depression. Here’s a recipe or Gaia makes a premade powder.

Slip into something comfortable. According to the National Sleep Foundation, bamboo fabric is the top pick for sleepwear. It’s hypoallergenic, naturally wicks moisture away and is biodegradable. Unlike silk, it’s also appropriate for vegans.

Give yourself an aural cue. Some sound machines have settings for spa-like tunes, or perhaps you find turning on ocean waves or thunderstorm soothing. Another option: The British Academy of Sound Therapy rated the 10 Most Scientifically Relaxing Songs in the World.   

Regulate the temperature. According to Dr. Christopher Winter, author of The Sleep Solution, a temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit is the optimal sleeping zone, with temperatures above 75 degrees and below 54 degrees disruptive.

Practice gratitude. Take a few minutes to count your blessings. Researchers at the University of Manchester in England found that subjects who fell asleep focusing on gratitude not only slept better and longer, but also still had a more positive outlook in the morning.

Here's to a long winter's nap!

Kathryn Drury Wagner

Spirituality & Health’s Wellbeing Editor, Kathryn Drury Wagner, is based in Savannah. She’s been a contributor to the magazine for many years, and she loves sharing ways to build a healthy, mindful, and sustainable lifestyle. 

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