Winter often conjures thoughts of dark, cold nights curling up under fuzzy blankets. For many people, it’s the season to sleep in. But while it’s easy to think that winter and sleep get along nicely, this exact reason is why winter can affect your sleep negatively.
Your body produces melatonin naturally when it’s dark, but since winter nights are longer, your body has extra hours to produce melatonin. This messes up with your circadian rhythm, leaving you sluggish during the day and more active at night.
Here are five ways to get better sleep during the winter.
- Bask in the Sun
During winter, it seems as though you can’t get out of bed. After all, it’s cold and dark, and leaving the warmth of your blankets may not be a good idea. Getting light as soon as you wake up helps reset your melatonin schedule so you can get better sleep later at night. If it’s dark when you wake up, turn on the lights or consider a light alarm clock.
- Squeeze in Early Exercise
No matter what time of year, exercise is always a good idea. But when you do exercise matters. While exercising at night can get you tired and ready to sleep, it might actually backfire. Exercise raises your body temperature and increases your heart rate, which might make it harder to fall asleep. Exercising in the winter mornings, on the other hand, can help you fight off the daytime fatigue and help you rest well at night.
- Adjust Your Thermostat
While it might be tempting to crank up the heat when it’s cold, doing so can raise your body temperature, which can make it harder to fall and stay asleep. Keep your room cool and don’t have the heating on too high.
- Take Care of Your Mental Health
That winter gloom is notorious for lowering our energy levels and diminishing our interest in things. Also called “winter blues” or “winter depression”, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a medical condition that involves changes in mood and behaviour during the colder months and affects about 3 in 100 people in the UK.
There are many ways to combat SAD, such as keeping yourself occupied, hanging out with positive people, and managing stress. Now that nights are longer, take this as an opportunity to incorporate a healthy night-time ritual that benefits your mental health and improves your sleep quality.
- Eat Right
From wanting to sleep in to forgoing exercise, wintertime is filled with so much temptation that could wreak havoc to your overall wellbeing. As it happens, people tend to crave for unhealthy foods during winter as well. But stuffing yourself can mess up with your digestion and sleep. If you can’t resist the urge to have a late-night snack, stick to light complex carbs and protein such as a whole-wheat toast and boiled egg.
There are many ways winter can throw off your sleep schedule, but by adopting these healthy habits, you can begin to see your routine normalise again.