As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, the urge to hibernate through winter is strong. With less daylight hours to work with, a good and full night’s sleep is essential to boosting mood and productivity during the chillier months – but how do you have a good sleep?
Studies have shown that we naturally sleep longer and better in the winter months. The cooler weather means our core body temperature drops more readily, which is essential to initiate and maintain sleep. Plus, dwindling daylight means we produce more of the sleep hormone, melatonin and tend to get tired earlier. It’s the perfect time of year to invest in our sleep health and set great habits according to Theresa Schnorbach, Sleep Scientist at Emma – The Sleep Company.
Draughty homes, less sunlight, days spent cooped up inside, stress and busy schedules can all be detractors from our ability to sleep soundly as winter sets in. Theresa shares her top tips to getting sleep that will have you waking up refreshed and rejuvenated this winter.
Regulate your body temperature Choosing sleepwear in breathable yet thermoregulating fabrics like linen, flannel and bamboo will keep you comfortable as you sleep. A mattress and pillow with thermoregulating outers will also go a long way in ensuring you don’t overheat under your winter weight duvet. They’ll be just as great in summer too due to their moisture-wicking and temperature controlling properties.
Keep your feet warm Wearing socks when jumping into bed increases circulation and helps dilate blood vessels, both of which facilitate a drop in core body temperature and lull you into a comfortable sleep.
Bask in the sun (when possible) A good night’s sleep starts during the day with exposure to natural light being an essential element to keep our body clocks ticking over. “Our circadian rhythm is regulated by light, so it’s essential to get outside – even if just for 5 to 10 minutes – and soak up daylight. This helps our bodies to know it’s time to wind down when the daylight fades to night,” says Theresa. Soaking up light on the daily is also key to preventing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a moderate form of depression caused by winter conditions, and helps kick start your day with fresh energy in the morning.
Resist the urge to crank the heat pump Not only is it a crunch on your wallet but making the air in your bedroom too warm can hinder a restful slumber. A room temperature of 16-19 degrees Celsius is ideal for sleep while you snuggle up under the covers. Conversely sleeping in a room that’s too warm can cause a deterioration of sleep quality and shorten sleep duration.
Monitor your sleep schedule and alcohol consumption Midwinter festivities may abound in the coming months, but too much alcohol can disrupt your sleep quality and duration, even if you might feel sleepy at first. Directly after eating a large meal or indulging a glass of vino your body is focused on digesting and it is more difficult to cool your body to a suitable sleeping temperature. Theresa recommends avoiding hitting the hay for 2-3 hours after a large meal and not mistaking alcohol for a sleeping aid.