Seasonal changes can mean difficulty sleeping as you struggle to adapt to changed temperatures and lower light levels. Here is our handy guide to a refreshing night’s sleep during the colder months.
- See the light: you might think that darker nights and greyer days would create an ideal environment for sleep, but that is not always the case. To help us sleep, our bodies produce the hormone melatonin which is suppressed by strong sunlight. That means that if it is a bright sunny day, you are likely to have low melatonin levels and feel full of energy. If the day is dull and overcast, though, your levels will remain higher and you risk feeling sleepy during the day instead of at night. Going for a walk in the morning or middle of the day will help to regulate melatonin levels and give you a better night’s sleep.
- Only hedgehogs hibernate!: we may feel as though we need more sleep in the winter, but there is no scientific evidence that we do. Napping during the day will only make it harder to sleep at night, so no matter how uninspired you are feeling it is best to get up as soon as you wake up, and stay up until bedtime.
- Be a cool customer: many of us have our bedrooms too hot during the night in the winter, which causes restlessness and poor-quality sleep. According to the Sleep Council, Britain’s national organisation for the promotion of sleep health, the optimum temperature for a bedroom is just 16 to 18 degrees C. Nightwear made from synthetic fibres may feel cosy at first, but will quickly cause you to overheat and become uncomfortable as it does not allow your body to breathe. Instead, choose pure cotton nightwear which will help to regulate body temperature and keep you comfortable all night long.
- Eat to sleep: many of us change our diets a little in the winter and eat more ‘comfort food’. While these meals can be just as healthy, they do tend to be a little more filling! Try moving your evening mealtime forwards a little to give you more time to digest before bedtime for a more restful night.
- Treat yourself: winter is the perfect time to invest in some new bedding. Choose pure cotton sheets for breathability and replace your pillows if they are more than two or three years old. Adding layers of thin bedding is better than using one enormous heavy duvet! Choosing throws in bright colours can help lift your mood, as well.
Poor quality sleep has consequences, leaving you feeling dull and worn out the following day, so it is well worth putting a little effort into getting the best night’s sleep possible.