Getting a good night’s sleep in the middle of winter may seem like it should be no problem. After all, it’s the season of long nights, cozy blankets, hibernation, and snuggling up by the fire or heater. But for all the same reasons winter and sleep go together so well, the opposite can also be true: For some people, winter can wreak havoc on sleep quality and quantity.
If you’re one of those people—who finds that these colder, shorter months mean more tossing and turning at night—we’re here for you. Here are all the ways this season can affect sleep, for better or worse, and how to get a good night’s rest all season long.
Take a walk outside at lunch
Of course, in the middle of the winter, it’s not unusual to leave for work or school when it’s still dark outside. Some people won’t see light all day, because they leave their offices after sunset as well.
If that’s the case, do your best to get outdoors for a few minutes while the sun is out to get fresh air vs being stuck in an enclosed office/classroom breathing germs in.
Resist the urge to sleep in or nap
As cozy and comfy 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. (Save the movie marathons for the couch, and all that work on your laptop for your home office.) Having a nap for adults may tell your body that you already got some of your 8 hours in already and you end up waking up in the middle of the night wide awake.
Don’t skimp on exercise
Cold weather, late sunrises, and early sunsets can make it more difficult to squeeze in a workout—and harder to feel motivated too. But making a commitment to get moving for at least 30 minutes most days can help you expend extra energy during the day and drift off to sleep more easily at night
Watch out for overeating
Sure, a large meal might feel like just the thing to put you to sleep—but overeating (and the weight gain associated with it) isn’t great for sleep quality in the long run. Eating too close to bedtime can also lead to heartburn, stomach discomfort, and other issues that can disturb sleep.
Don’t overheat your house
Colder temperatures are conducive for sleeping, since the body’s internal temperature drops as it prepares for slumber. The worst is when your bedroom is on the second floor, and because heat rises it tends to be the warmest part of the house.
Not only do Heaters increase your electricity bill but also dry the air out causing sinus/health issues. If you’re feeling restless or warm at night, try turning down your heat or shedding a layer of clothing or bedding to see if that helps.
Consider a humidifier
Winter air can also equal dry air, which can trigger dry, itchy skin and irritate your nose and throat. Both can make it difficult to drift off to dreamland.
If you do run a humidifier, be sure to clean it regularly to prevent mold and mildew from building up in the reservoir. You might also consider a combination humidifier and aromatherapy diffuser, which will disperse essential oils (like lavender) throughout your bedroom. Before using Essential oils, please research them as some such as Eucalyptus oil is great for humans but can be toxic to animals!
Practice cold and flu prevention
Nothing hampers a good night’s sleep like a stuffy nose or cough—and during the winter months, these can be hard to avoid. You can do your best to stay healthy, however, by practicing common sense cold and flu prevention.
Eat healthy, ensure you are getting all your vitamins, wash your hands regularly, don’t share cups or utensils, and avoid others who are sick—and if you do get sick, try to avoid spreading it to friends and family members.
Limit alcohol before bed
This one is true any time of year, but long winter nights—especially around the holidays—often provide opportunities for overindulging. And even small amounts of alcohol can disrupt sleep, especially before bedtime.
Keep stress levels low
The pressures of getting back to work and keeping up with the increasing living costs can make winter a particularly stressful time. Winter can also increase feelings of depression for people with seasonal affective disorder as well. Consider taking up a hobby or meditation and other activities to reduce your stress levels.