For most, long gone are the warm spring and summer days - the winter season is now upon us. As it greets us with colder weather, a time change and even the holidays, this time of year can wreak havoc on our sleep patterns and the quality of our sleep.
Whether you’re traveling for the holidays, staying in or just patiently waiting for summer to arrive, it’s important to understand how this time of year can affect how you snooze, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with cold weather.
Why Am I So Tired in the Winter?
Below are some ways that a cold and long winter can affect your sleep and make you tired.
Lack of Exercise
Do you go into hibernation during the winter season? We tend to have low energy levels and encounter winter fatigue, making us feel more sluggish during winter, making it more difficult to want to exercise.
Regardless, it’s important to make that extra effort to get to the gym a few times a week or go for evening walks. This will, in turn, help you fall asleep at the right time as well as sleep better at night.
Change in Eating Habits
With colder days and the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the season. From visiting with loved ones near and far to enjoying the delicious food, the holidays are something most look forward to year-round. More often than not, foods that are associated with the holidays are chock-full of sugar, dense carbohydrates, and fattening ingredients.
Not only can these foods affect your appetite and metabolism, but they can also interfere with the balance of a hormone called leptin, which is known to influence our sleep cycle. To add insult to injury, a disrupted sleep cycle can also influence your appetite, causing you to eat more “holiday-dense” foods or food in general. This can make you sleep more in the winter.
Lack of Light
Between daylight savings time and the time surrounding the winter solstice, the days are shorter and the nights are longer for those in the Northern Hemisphere resulting in you sleeping more in the winter. With the sun setting around 5 PM in the winter months (in comparison to an average of 7 PM or later in the summer months) we’re spending more time in the dark during this time of year.
This can have a variety of repercussions, including depression and a disrupted sleep cycle. This may affect things like your appetite and desire to exercise, and may even cause excessive napping or oversleeping on the weekends.
Cold & Flu Season
Colder weather often weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses like the flu or the common cold. While many viruses can cause the common cold, the bug most often blamed for the common cold, also known as the rhinovirus, thrives in cold weather.
When you’re sick, not only do you not feel well but your sleep patterns are severely disrupted. This can cause you to sleep at times you normally wouldn’t or take long winter naps.
Additionally, when you’re sleeping with the cold or flu virus not only is your quality of sleep poor, but you also feel poorly - yet another thing that can affect how you sleep.
How to Improve Your Winter Sleep
We understand that winter can play a role in our sleep and sleep patterns. So, how can we improve our sleep and get more energy this winter? For some people, sleeping better can consist of some of the following tips. Give some a try and see if they work well for you and your winter situation.
Winter means less sunlight. As mentioned above, the day gets darker around 4 pm during the winter months. Make an effort to get more sunlight, when this occurs, your body is receiving more melatonin.
Tip: Avoid “blue light” leading up to bedtime. This can help keep your melatonin levels on schedule.
Because it’s cold outside, that doesn’t mean you get to eat larger meals and have snacks leading up to bedtime. Eating a big meal or getting full-on snacks isn’t a great way to improve your sleep. This can lead to altering your circadian rhythm. Make sure to eat light and healthy meals and limit the snacking before you go to bed. This can result in a good night’s sleep.
Stay Cool at Night
We often think that cranking up your heat will result in better sleep. You want to sleep cold, but not too cold. While most sleep better at a temperature range of 60 - 67 degrees Fahrenheit, there is such a thing as being “too cold”. Alternatively, when it’s cold outside, people have a tendency to warm their homes to the point that it’s “too warm” to get a great night’s sleep.
We offer bed cooling systems (OOLER & Cube) that you can directly control your sleep temperature from 55 - 110 degrees Fahrenheit, letting you get your best night’s rest all year, despite your room temperature.
Do You Sleep Better in the Cold?
Sleeping colder can result in better sleep quality. As you’re falling asleep, cooler temperatures can help you get to sleep faster, lower the risk of metabolic diseases like diabetes, increase your quality of REM sleep, and even help you look younger. Additionally, it can help increase your metabolism.
At ChiliSleep, we’re always focused on helping you find your best rest and your best sleep temperature. In the past, we’ve discussed the variety of health benefits you receive from sleeping at cooler temperatures.
During the winter months, it’s important to understand how your sleep is affected by this time of year so that you’re more prepared and remain well-rested. Whether you try to watch what you eat, head to the gym, support your immune system or regulate your sleep temperature, as long as you understand how to combat the obstacles presented by the winter months, you should be able to rest easier.
If you’re concerned about your sleeping challenges, please contact and talk to your doctor.