Like any other time of year, winter can bring both enhancements and challenges to a healthy sleep routine. Short days and long nights can make for cozy, quiet, restful evenings. For many people, the quick pace of the fall quiets down a bit during winter, helping us slow down and relax. The key to sleeping well in winter?
Know what to watch for in changes to your sleep. Know the daily habits—both good and bad—that are likely to affect your ability to rest at night.
Below are the 10 sleep tips to sleep better during winter, tips we at TABIIB highly recommend.
Don’t Wind Down Too Early
We’re headed toward the shortest day of the year, December 21st’s winter solstice. Much of the country is experiencing significantly less daylight. Thanks to November’s clock shift backwards, darkness sets in for many of us particularly early, according to social time.
The curtailment of daylight means big changes for our bodies, which rely on light and darkness cues to regulate our bio clocks. That includes the production of melatonin, a key hormone facilitating sleep. With so much time spent in darkness, melatonin production—which is triggered by the absence of light—becomes extended.
We at TABIIB recommend a slightly earlier bedtime while keeping your wake time the same—and starting your day off with some bright light to get you rolling!
Keep Up With Exercise
There is no time of year when practice and physical exercise are not beneficial for your evening rest. But sleep can be especially beneficial when exercising during winter months. Exercise is a treatment that is natural for depression, and evidence indicates that antidepressant drugs are workable or better without any possible side effects (which include disruptions to sleep). The practice exercise will help to reinforce the circadian patterns that keep you asleep, feed, and sound like you during the winter months.
We at TABIIB recommend timing your exercise right during winter can expand its benefits. If you’re struggling to get moving in the mornings, try a workout first thing. Even a short one can make a big difference for your day.
Know Your Vitamin D
Our strong vitamin D source is the light of the sun. This is why so many people suffer in winter from low vitamin D levels. There is an estimated 50% vitamin D deficiency across the country of adults and children.
Research has shown that Vitamin D also improves sleep in addition to its other health benefits (stabilising mood, maintaining healthy bones, improving immune functions). Studies show that a lack of vitamin D reduces time to sleep and decreases sleep efficiency – a significant sleep quality indicator. Winter is the time for many people to be most possibly inadequate.
If you don’t already have your Vitamin D levels assessed as part of your physical, ask your doctor to perform that blood test. You can always book an appointment on the TABIIB website/ app anytime.
Avoid Night-time Binge Eating
Is there another time of year when nighttime snacking is more tempting than the middle of winter?
Having to digest a large amount of food will keep your body from transitioning into sleep mode. Eating and digestion send messages to your body’s bio clock, altering circadian rhythms. Our bodies face enough circadian challenges during winter without having to receive mixed messages from a late-night eating habit. And as we know, we’re more likely to gain weight when we shift more of our calories to the evening hours.
You can always have a light snack at night. Just don’t overdo.
Tend To Your Gut Health
Our daily calorie intake goes up during the winter months. We experience seasonal changes to our hunger hormones. Levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin go up in winter, while levels of leptin—the hormone that produces feelings of fullness—go down.
Our heightened drive for carbs may have to do with carbohydrates connection to serotonin. All this takes a toll on our gut health. The health of the gut microbiome—the vast collection of microorganisms in our intestines—is a hot topic, with good reason. The health of our gut affects our immune system, our moods, our brain function, and our overall wellness, according to a fast-growing body of research.
Stay Warm At Night—But Not Too Warm
When we’re sleeping, our bodies lose some of their ability to regulate temperature. That makes us extra susceptible to the effects of our sleep environment. The optimal temperature for sleep—about 65 degrees Fahrenheit—remains the same no matter the season. Keeping that nighttime room temperature in place can help ensure you won’t wake in the middle of the night because your room has gotten too cold.
Dedicate some warm socks for sleeping if you’re prone to having chilly toes at night. And be sure to dress yourself and your bedding in natural, breathable fabrics that allow heat to circulate and dissipate, so you don’t overheat from trying to keep yourself from being too cold.
Avoid Bright Screens Within 1-2 Hours Of Your Bedtime
The blue light emitted by your phone, tablet, computer, or TV is especially disruptive. You can minimize the impact by using devices with smaller screens, turning the brightness down. Also, say no to late-night television. Not only does the light from a TV suppress melatonin, but many programs are stimulating rather than relaxing. Try listening to music or audiobooks instead.