As we leave autumn behind and head into winter, it’s time to reassess your sleep quality
A change in seasons can have a significant impact on your sleeping pattern, but we often don’t even notice these changes taking place. The environment around us changes gradually as we move from autumn to winter, resulting in longer nights and colder temperatures. And it’s important that we reflect on how this is affecting our sleep so we can make positive changes where necessary.
Because, if there’s one thing we all deserve in 2020, it’s a restful and refreshing night’s sleep. This year has been tough in a number of ways, taking its toll on our mental health. Sleep is a key pillar of both physical and mental wellbeing, so here are some top tips on getting a good night’s sleep throughout the winter nights.
Switch your heating off
We all tend to rely on our central heating more as winter arrives, but switching on your heating too often – and too close to bedtime – could result in seasonal sleep struggles.
If your bedroom is too cold or too warm it can disrupt your body’s natural sleeping process. Artificial heat, like that produced by your radiators, creates warm and dry air which can lead to dehydration and dried out mucus membranes. If you have your heating on at night, you’re more likely to wake up with a dry mouth or an intense thirst, preventing you from falling back to sleep.
The optimum bedroom temperature should fall a little on the cooler side, between 16 and 18 degrees. This temperature mimics your body’s natural hibernation state, encouraging restful sleep.
Prioritise getting light when you can
We all know how powerful sunlight can be when it comes to boosting both our moods and our energy levels, but spending time in the sun becomes much more difficult in the winter when the light fades faster and the temperature drops. This is even more of a challenge now that so many of us are working from home, allowing days to go by without having to leave the house.
The result of this is a disrupted circadian rhythm that makes a good night’s sleep more of a challenge. It’s vitally important to get outside when you can, increasing your sunlight exposure during these challenging months. You can also look to alternative methods of light, such as investing in a SAD lamp which mirrors the impact the sun has on our energy levels.
Getting light during the day is just as important as having a dark bedroom at night. Increasing your sunlight exposure in the morning can have a direct impact on how well you sleep when evening rolls around.
Enjoy a sleep-friendly diet
What we eat is just as important as how much light we enjoy or how often we heat our home when it comes to resting easy in the winter. As the days get colder and darker, we tend to rely more and more on comfort foods like bread, pasta and potatoes. But too many of these complex carbohydrates consumed close to bedtime can wreak havoc on your sleep quality.
Aim to eat heavier meals earlier in the day, in order to prevent digestion and your metabolism disrupting your sleep. There are also a number of foods which have the potential to improve your sleep quality, such as foods rich in vitamin B6, which boosts melatonin levels and helps to prepare us for sleep.