How winter can affect your sleep and ways to combat this

Winter – we all know we can get a bit down and gloomy as the nights draw in and the weather gets colder.

But what if you find the weather affecting your sleep? Many people find themselves feeling far more sluggish in the winter months, but fear not – you’re not alone if this is you.

What can affect my sleep during winter?

One of the prime reasons as to why tiredness is so rife in the cold is because of the shorter days. The amount of daylight we’re exposed to is much more limited than the rest of the year, which can impact the body’s natural cycles.

Light affects the pituitary gland which secretes melatonin, the chemical that regulates the body’s sleep cycle.

Lack of light can prompt the body to produce more of this chemical, making us feel tired and sluggish sooner and more easily. Sometimes, this can even transform into seasonal affective disorder (SAD) categorized by depressive episodes that take place during seasonal change.

The excess consumption of alcohol and caffeine that can creep in around the Christmas period can also be a contributor in your digestion and therefore quality of sleep.

Both of these products are natural stimulants, and coupled with digestion keeping you awake it is no wonder people are often up until the early hours.

Stress over holiday arrangements or your bank balance after Christmas shopping can play a part in how well you sleep through winter too.

Because of this, it is so crucial to allow your body the right amount of rest and minimise the things that are affecting your sleep as much as you can.

How can I combat this?

There are a few things you can do to try and set your body clock back to normal and get a good nights rest.

  • Let in the light – opening your curtains as soon as you wake up allows for the maximum amount of light exposure. Whether it’s dark when you wake up and your curtains are readily open for when the sun finally rises, or whether it’s light when you wake, and you see this straight away, any increase in sunlight will inhibit melatonin production and give you the best chance at a normal day and therefore a good night.
  • Exercise – make sure to tire your body out! Cardio is great for increasing your heart rate, muscle building is known for improving sleep patterns and yoga is an incredible stress buster. Trying your hardest to include any other form of exercise into your daily routine will enable you to see immense differences in your sleeping patterns.
  • Relax – there’s no direct way to combat stress if this is the factor keeping you awake. It is, however, possible to try to get some more ‘me-time’ into your day to properly think over your priorities and how you can complete them to put your mind at ease and allow you to sleep soundly.
  • Eat right – being overweight or underweight can have a direct influence on your energy levels. Eating a healthy diet can put your body at balance and restore your sleep cycle. There’s so many treats on offer at this time of year it’s hard to resist. Sugary food spikes your energy but only momentarily, leaving you feeling sluggish again soon after. Include fruit and veg into your meals , and make the most of the winter comforts like roasted vegetables to provide a warming meal that will please your stomach.
  • Vitamin D – ensure you have plenty of Vitamin D in your diet, as research has shown low levels of this can impact your sleep.

A good night’s sleep is vital for us to function at a normal level. Although winter can be harsh, you now know some of the ways to help yourself doze off in the chilly season and can reset your body clock.

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