Winter might be synonymous with hibernation, but not everyone’s guaranteed a good night’s sleep. As we go into winter, the days get shorter and the nights get longer and, you'd think that you'd then want to sleep a lot more or at least find it easier to sleep, but this is not always the case.
If you find that you’re struggling to nod off or wake up feeling tired, implement these change of season sleep solutions to improve your pillow time.
Light affects your sleep
Morning light stimulates our bodies to feel awake and artificial light does the same thing. This is a problem because, in winter, we tend to come home to a gloomy house, so we set all the lights ablaze and keep it that way until bedtime. There's just no tapering off.
The link between sleep and light isn’t just psychological. Melatonin, the hormone that tells you when it's time to go to sleep, is stimulated from early evening onward by the gradual dimming of daylight. If there's no fading of the light, this affects our body's ability to synthesise it.
Dim the lights or turn off the main lights around you, leaving only a few lamps on before bedtime.
Ban all electronics from your bedroom. By doing this, your body learns that dimming means drowsiness and darkness means sleep.
Turn the light from a digital alarm clock away from you.
It’s crucial to become more aware of how light can affect your sleep pattern.
Turn down the heat
In winter, we tend to snuggle up under the warm, fluffy blankets and crank up the heater up to maximum. While it’s important to feel cozy – if you’re bundled up in too many layers or have a heater set to blast, you’re not going to experience the slight temperature drop that signals sleep.
When you fall asleep, your body temperature starts to drop a few degrees below it's normal "wakeful" temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. Researchers believe that this subtle temperature dip allows your body to divert some of the energy it uses to maintain your waking temperature to better power the important reparative tasks it performs at night.
Don’t go overboard with the blankets. Rather use only what you need to feel comfortable as opposed to toasty.
Don’t discount the magical power of socks! Heating up your feet causes vasodilation (the opening of your veins) which reduces the time it takes to fall asleep.
Find the right balance. Use only what you need to feel comfortable as opposed to toasty.
Not so sweet dreams
Many people think that cold, wet weather causes a desire for all things stodgy and sweet but it’s actually the lack of sunlight. As humans, we need sun exposure to naturally manufacture vitamin D which, in turn, boosts our serotonin levels. If our vitamin D levels are low, our serotonin levels are low, which then results in carb and sugar cravings.
Studies have found that those who eat sugar are a lot more likely to experience a sleep pattern disrupted by arousals – little intrusions that don’t actually wake you up but pull you from the deep sleep your body needs to a lighter, much less restorative sleep stage.
The result is that you wake up, having slept through the night, but can't understand why you still feel tired.
This one’s easy to say, but often hard to do – “say no to sugar”. At the end of the day, sugar, no matter how delicious, is bad for us. It ages us, it causes disease and even interferes with our sleep.
If you’ve got excess weight to lose, consider embarking on our Renewal Institute Diet (the RID) – their most successful diet to date. The low GI (glycaemic index) eating plan enhanced by supplements and hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) injections and stabilising sugar levels, resulting in a loss of up to 6 kgs in women and, up to 8 kgs in men within one month.
Going on a low GI is one of the best things you can do for your health.
Sleep well, all the time
If these sleep solutions don't improve your sleep, make an appointment with one of the doctors at Sleep Renewal forhelp you get more of the restorative sleep you need to wake up feeling great, regardless of the season.