When the days get shorter and the nights get longer, Winter has come to stay. A person’s first instinct is to go straight into winter hibernation mode and start a string of bad habits that can radically affect the way we sleep at night. At The Bed Centre we understand the dos and don’ts for having healthier sleep cycles and the ways to prevent seasonal winter depression from creeping into your life.
How to Sleep Better this Winter
As the curtailment of daylight continues during winter, it leads to big changes in our bodies. Light and darkness cues regulate our bio clocks, which also includes the production of melatonin, a key hormone facilitating sleep. Melatonin production is triggered by this absence of light, and production starts to become extended as winter runs its course. That’s because sunlight triggers the suppression of melatonin, a hormone that helps the body prepare for sleep. Some people are affected more deeply by this change in their circadian rhythms, which often leads to bouts of winter depression (which is a seasonal affective disorder). Here are The Bed Centre’s sleeping better in winter tips to get you building healthier habits for the best sleep ever!
1. Exercise Your Body
Exercise is a mental game, and when you are facing cold weather, late sunrises and early sunsets will cut into your time to train and may affect your motivation too. If you can conquer your inner resistance with at least 30 minutes of training most days, you may deplete enough energy to drift off to sleep more easily at night. Outdoor exercise should be a staple of your fitness program as you chase more natural light to help your circadian rhythms.
Ironically this regular exercise also goes a long way toward fending off weight gain, which is another obstacle to contend with during the cold winter months. Weight gain can amplify and worsen sleeping conditions like sleep apnea, which can, in some cases, become life-threatening. Get training done early and avoid napping during the day because that tends to make falling or staying asleep at night harder.
2. Humidify Your Home
As we push back at the cold of winter with our heaters, we dry out the air, which may cause congestion and lead to snoring and disruptive breathing patterns that aren’t conducive to restful sleep. It’s a simple case of hydrating during the day and using a humidifier during the night. Or you can always try using a Neti pot to flush saline solution through your nasal passages before bedtime.
It’s the fact that Winter air can also equal dry air, which can, in turn, trigger dry, itchy skin and irritate your nose and throat. A combination humidifier with an aromatherapy diffuser may be the perfect sleeping aid that can help disperse essential oils (like lavender) throughout your bedroom.
It is always best to clean your humidifier regularly to prevent mould and mildew from building up in the reservoir.
3. Eat Right to Sleep Right
One of the first things we wrestle with in winter is those irrational food cravings, where we crave more comfort food or end up eating larger meals consisting of sugar and excessive carbs. It’s best to stick to eating light dinners, and it’s important to note that eating too close to bedtime can also lead to heartburn, and stomach discomfort and stimulate other issues that may disturb your sleep.
It’s also important not to overindulge in drinking during winter, as small amounts of alcohol can disrupt your sleep, especially before bedtime. While Alcohol may act as a sedative going in, it has the opposite effect as it leaves your body as a stimulant. When you fall asleep with alcohol in your system, you may wake up four or five hours later and find yourself not being able to get back to sleep.
4. Stay Cool, and Don’t Overcompensate
As we bundle up during the Winter months, we may want the opposite in our homes, and we end up cranking up the heat and piling on heavy layers. One has to remember that colder temperatures are more conducive for sleeping. Since the body’s internal temperature drops as it prepares for slumber.
It’s all really about balance and good personal habits that make for sleeping better in winter. At The Bed Centre we always make sure you know the secrets to better sleep and a healthier life style.