How Does Winter Affect Sleep?

by Sophie Iroegbunam December 17, 2021 4 min read

Person who is asleep in while it's snowing

How does the Winter affect your sleep and what can you do

 

During the winter a lot of people find it hard to get out of bed and find themselves getting tired a lot faster. Read on to learn why this happens and what solutions there are to this problem so many of us can relate with.

The winter brings in shorter days, colder weather, colder temperatures, and seasonal depression. As it gets darker a lot earlier in the winter our body produces melatonin, the hormone that regulates the sleep-wake upcycle, a lot earlier during the day as it starts to get dark around noon. The production of melatonin is based on light means that it is very likely that you can feel tired during the day even if you did just wake up a few hours ago.

Get a good nights sleep

Before anything else, to prevent feeling tired the next day, it is important to get a good night’s sleep. Sleeping early is the first step to fighting off the winter tiredness, the cold makes it feel like an extreme sport getting out of bed in the morning on the first try. It may be easier to go to sleep and stay asleep for longer during the winter as external factors like hay fever, summer heat and daylight during late are factors that normally affect our sleep during summer. Secondly, your bedroom should be a place of tranquillity, a place of peace, relaxing, calm and comfortable. Make sure to declutter your bedroom of the summer activity and turn off all of your devices so you can fall asleep faster. 

Get some sunlight

During the morning ideally, try to get an hour of sunlight or as much sunlight as you can get. Even if it is just 5 minutes of sunlight whilst drinking your morning coffee, some natural sunlight is better than none. As the days get shorter it becomes harder to get sunlight with the recommended amount of natural vitamin D, the lack of sunlight we get during the winter is a direct reason for why we feel so tired during the winter. It should also be considered that with there being less sunlight, our body may face difficultly synthesising vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for a lot of reasons, it is a nutrient that is crucial for your immune function, in addition to being an important hormone, the lack of vitamin D has been associated with low mood, irritability and fatigue, as well as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). 

Invest in a Humidifier

Going from a freezing temperature to a hot temperature when you get home can dry out your skin and your mucous membranes. Your skin may get irritated because of the sudden change in temperature and water in the air so investing in a humidifier will help to put moister back in the cold dry air.

Regulate the temperature in your room

If you put your heating on when you come home, try to remember to turn it off before going to bed, since you may wake up in the middle of the night feeling too hot because of the heating. A room that is too hot is just as bad a room that is too cold, when you go to bed without the heating just use an extra blanket, that way it doesn’t waste any extra energy and you can always move it if you do start to feel too warm. A cold room is easier to sleep in as opposed to a warmer room as our body gets ready to go to sleep it cools down and if the room is too warm then it will make it harder for our cool-down therefore, taking longer to fall asleep.

Take some Vitamin D

If you aren’t able to get some sunlight during the winter or just the idea of going outside in the winter to get some sunlight doesn’t seem like something that you want to do, it may be worth taking vitamin D supplements to make up for the lack of vitamin D that you’re currently getting. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin so you don’t have to take too much for it to be enough, 10 mg a day is enough for most people. Taking supplements will help your body recover properly and they can support your immune system.

Add some nutrition to your diet

You can add some antioxidant-rich nutrients into your diet like seasonal fruits and leafy greens to help you build a stronger immune system for the wintertime, also make sure to drink enough water, you don’t want your body to be dehydrated especially during such a drying season.

During the winter we tend to eat more than we do during any other time of the year, perhaps that’s due to the bombarding of seasonal or festival themed foods, drinks, and desserts. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas are all festivals or holidays that are largely based/celebrated with foods, drinks, and coffee shops coming out with specific drinks or deserts for those occasions that only come out during those festivals or holidays. During Christmas and thanksgiving, having celebrations with a lot of fat, high carb foods and a high intake of alcoholic beverages will affect your sleep. Of course, the odd wine or drink won’t affect your sleep but drinking more than you should, will make it harder for you to sleep well, often leaving you unsatisfied with your sleep and still feeling tired.

Sugary foods have a domino effect on the hormone Leptin, which may stimulate your food cravings the next day, the more you eat the more you will feel hungry the next day, thus leading you to a cycle of gaining weight. Gaining weight may affect your sleep because you may suffer from things like heartburn and constipation before or whilst sleeping. It’s important to eat in moderation as food affects everything from our lifestyle to our mood and mindset to our sleeping pattern. Exercising will help with losing weight that you may have put on during winter and help you have a healthier balance in your life in terms of reducing stress, boosting your self-esteem, mood, quality of sleep and energy.

Many other factors aren’t listed that occur during winter that may affect our sleeping patterns but overall these solutions all end with taking care of yourself and allowing both your mind and body to have the best sleep it can have.

Sophie Iroegbunam
Sophie Iroegbunam


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