Sleep Health in Winter

It’s officially winter. The days are shorter and the nights colder, making it a task to get out of bed every morning. We all know how harsh Melbourne’s windy winter can be and how depressing it is when daylight is gone by the time you leave work.  

The changing weather conditions affect more than your routine outdoor activities – it actually disrupts some of your body’s natural processes including sleep. You would think a cozy warm bed would help you sleep better during the winter season. But cold weather comes with its own sleep challenges like a disrupted sleep schedule, feelings of lethargy, and plenty of tossing and turning.

Here are a few tips that may help you achieve a consistent good night’s sleep in winter:

Get light in the daytime 

We tend to feel sleepier as the days get shorter. Reduced exposure to natural light in the winter slows down the release of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that tells your body it’s time to sleep. As a result of this, your internal circadian rhythm is disrupted. Your body doesn’t have a clear distinction between daytime and nighttime, leading to an increased desire to sleep and at the same time, difficulty to actually fall asleep. We suggest taking walks during your lunch or just step outside for a few minutes and bask in the sun whenever possible.

Resist the urge to sleep in or nap

Your body doesn’t actually need more sleep during the winter months. If you’re sleeping later than usual or napping during the day, that could make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. As cozy as your bed might be, it’s not a good idea to curl up there during the day if you’re not planning on sleeping.

Don’t overheat 

Cold temperatures have a positive effect on sleep since the body’s internal temperature drops actually drops when you’re falling asleep. When it’s cold outside, most people tend to crank up the thermostat. This causes the body to overheat during the night, making you sweat and sleep more fitfully. 

Try not to go overboard with the internal heating and regulate your temperature with your bedding. We recommend layering your bedding and nightclothes. That way you can un-layer during the night to make sure you’re not overheating.

Try a humidifier

Indoor heating dries out the air and could cause nasal congestion, snoring and other breathing difficulties that may hamper a restful night’s sleep. We recommend staying hydrated during the day, using a humidifier during the night.

Stay active 

It’s hard to find the motivation to workout in winter. But it’s very important to have a plan for maintaining exercise during the winter months. Research has shown that people who exercise regularly tend to sleep better. Doing some kind of physical activity every day will go a long way in maintaining your overall health.

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