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Beat the Midwinter Blues with these Sleeping Tips

Monday, February 29, 2016

Getting a great night’s sleep is important to your health and well-being, but what happens when the seasons change, the sun disappears for a while, and motivation drops as fast as the temperature? Winter can be a tough time of year to stay consistent when it comes to sleeping. Certain factors—some we can control and some we can’t—play into our sleep habits, too:

Less daylight

Shorter days mean less sunlight. When it’s dark, dreary and sun-less, your body produces more Melatonin, a hormone that helps you fall asleep. This is fine and dandy for nighttime, but creates problems when your brain assumes lack of sunlight = it’s time for bed. Hence the nearly constant feelings of drowsiness all winter long.

Less exercise, more food

It’s easy to feel lethargic right after a hearty, winter dinner. Cold-curbing meals full of “comfort food” are delicious, especially around the holidays. But these high-carb diets coupled with a lack of exercise can make you feel sleepy, sloth-like and ultimately mess with your sleep routine.

Midwinter sickness

Catch a cold, and suddenly you’re sleeping all the time. This is understandable, but too much sleep, just like too little sleep, can be a problem. Being sick doesn’t help the situation, either, since our bodies are trying to fight off a virus. Winter bugs like the flu affect our sleep patterns just as much as lack of light does.

The Air

Winter comes with dry, brittle, and cold air. The result? An itchy and dry nasal passage and throat from breathing in all that lack of humidity. What’s worse, dry winter air can also make you more susceptible to catching a cold, which only adds to the difficulty of sleeping through the night.


Sleeping well despite the winter woes

The changing seasons can change how we sleep. While it’s important to get enough sleep each night (generally 7-8 hours for adults), it’s just as important how well you’re getting sleep. Winter is planning on staying for a while, so how do we combat all the negative influencers and sleep well despite the cold? Good news! It’s not as difficult as it seems—follow these tips to help you get a better night’s sleep:

1. Stock up on sun - naturally, you should try to catch as much sunlight as possible, but some days (or weeks), it’s hard to come by. Sunlight helps your body halt the product of Melatonin until it’s dark out and actually time to sleep, making you feel more alert and awake during the day. When the sunlight is lacking, try using a sunlight-stimulating lamp to help fight off the winter blues.

2. Watch the heat - it makes sense to crank the heat during winter. But high bedroom temperatures can factor into poor wintertime sleep habits. Overdoing the heat creates a hot, stuffy environment, and this, along with the dry air, makes for a not-so-ideal climate to catch some Zs. Keep the inside temps a little cooler and opt to bundle up with blankets instead.

3. Be mindful - listen to your body this winter. Try adding fruits and vegetables to your diet, or walking during your lunch break. Winter is a bit of adjustment for your body, so don’t exhaust yourself, but don’t skip out on the exercise either. Plan ahead for the night and make sure you don’t use electronics in bed since the stimulation from activity and a bright screen are keeping your brain awake instead of powering it down for the night.

4. Start a routine - sometimes a good night’s sleep means preparing for and going to bed at the same time each night. During winter, when dusk is early, resist the urge to hit the pillow when the sun goes down, and set a time to sleep and stick to it. Make your bedtime routine a priority and relaxing, avoid exercise right before bed, and make sure your sleeping environment is cool and dark.

5. Eat better - especially in winter, keeping up with eating fruits and vegetables can be difficult. But good food habits can help with sleep, and eating right affects not only how you sleep, but how you function during the day. Calcium and magnesium rich foods like milk and nuts help fight insomnia and aid in relaxation. A good pre-sleep snack is a glass of warm milk.


Time to Shop? 

For many people, a few changes to daily and nightly routines are all that is needed to get a good night’s sleep. It’s easy to be distracted by the comfort foods and the need for a nap, but focusing on creating an environment, lifestyle, and personal routine can help you feel better and sleep sounder each night.

if you’re having difficulty sleeping well after following these tips, you may be due for a new mattress, pillow or both. Talk with your doctor if you think you fatigue may be due to something else, or if you think you may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, a common issue for many people during winter months. But, if you think it’s time for a new mattress, talk to Jonathan Stevens and we’ll help you find the perfect fit!

Take the Mattress Finder Quiz today and find a match for you sleep style.

What sleep habits have you found to work during winter? How have you combated the winter woes with healthy sleep routines?