Winter Blues = No Snooze


sad winter

 

We can certainly all see that winter is now among us. The cold has come and it’s here to stay for the next few months.  Its cold out and the days are shorter; by the time most of us are ready to leave work the outside world has become night. So it doesn’t seem unusual to have that sleepy feeling. Our circadian rhythm (internal sleep clock) reminds us when it’s time to sleep and wake. This can be affected during these short days. Remember, over sleeping doesn’t mean you won’t feel tired, In fact, when you sleep too much you can end up feeling even more tired.

It’s not abnormal to feel sleepy when the sky darkens. In fact, when we see less sunlight throughout the day our bodies prepare for sleep. In the winter, when the sun rises later, our bodies want to stay in bed longer.

So the question really is, how are some ways these shorter days affect our sleep?

House is too hot: Turning up the heat can certainly make you feel warmer; however it can affect your sleep negatively.  Warm temperatures can keep you up at night. When we sleep our bodies adjust to the room temperature.  Optimal temperatures for sleep range from 68 to 72 degrees.

House is too cold: Just like being too hot, a room being too cold can also disrupt your sleep. It’s important to keep the temperature just right. Not too cold and not too warm.

House is too dry: When you’re room is too dry it can be difficult to receive sleep comfortably.  Once you’re nose and mouth dry out the snoring tends to start. Your breathing affects how you sleep every night. So when it’s too dry you’re sleep pattern can be affected negatively.

Limited light throughout the day: As you all know, when we receive limited sunlight throughout the days our bodies tend to feel more tired. When it gets dark our circadian rhythm tells our bodies it’s time to sleep.  In the grand scheme of things this makes it so much harder to feel alert. By the time the day is half way over our bodies have adjusted and want to rest due to limited sunlight. It’s easier said than done; however waking up earlier to make the most of the sunlight can help you stay awake before it gets dark too early.

Heavy Meals: When it’s cold outside people turn to comfort foods. Our bodies crave heavy meals when it’s cold. It will certainly help keep your body warm but at the same time work against you when you’re trying to sleep.  When your body has to work harder to digest the food, it can keep you awake. Try to avoid heavy meals close to bed time; eating 4 to 5 hours before you bed  can help you fully digest without disrupting your sleep.

Lack of movement/ less exercise:  Sleep and exercise go hand in had. The healthier you are the better you sleep and the better you sleep the healthier you’ll be.  Yes, it’s harder to want to exercise when it’s cold outside.  Whether it’s taking the stairs or taking a walk, movement is the key. The main problem is that we all tend to become lazy during winter, hibernation mode hits us. Unlike certain animals, we can’t afford to sleep all day.  So remember, the key is to keep moving throughout the day. By the time bedtime comes around, our bodies will be ready for sleep.

Too much sleep: Yes, staying in bed on cold wintry days is something we all long for. It sounds great, it feels great, but is it great? Sleep debt is something many are unaware of. It’s not possible to catch up on sleep over the weekends. We think we’re catching up by additional hours of sleep; however all it does is disrupt your sleep patterns for the upcoming week. The best way to avoid sleep debt is to have a set sleeping pattern.  Our circadian rhythm needs time to balance and adjust.

 

Remember, the cold season affects us all one way or another. Try to set a sleep schedule for yourself, maintaining  the same bedtime every day can help your quality of sleep.

 

 

 

For more info on how winter can affect your sleep follow the link below.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/sleep/basics/how-to-fall-asleep2.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8064650

 

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