an image of an image of kids sleeping in winter in bed

Sleeping In Winter - How To Do It Comfortably?

The winter season can make it especially difficult for people to fall asleep. Layering under a huge pile of blankets might seem like the ideal situation to combat the cold winter season but experts recommend other sleep tips for the upcoming cold months. In this article we’ll show you how to adapt your sleeping environment to the winter condition.

a woman sleeping during the winter time

Lower the heat

Cranking up the heat may seem like a cozy way to spend an evening, but it can also really wreak havoc on your sleep. As we sleep, our body acclimates to the room temperature. If we lower our body temperature a little bit in a cooler room, we tend to sleep better.  While the exact thermostat is a matter of personal comfort, optimal temperatures tend to range between 20 and 22 degrees oC. Instead of having one big comforter, we suggest piling on light layers on your bed so that you can remove them if it becomes too warm.

an image of a woman setting up the temperature on a thermostat

Don't keep the room too cold

Not to sound like Goldilocks, but it’s important to keep the temperature just right — similar to how a too-warm bedroom can keep you up at night, being too cold isn’t conducive to sleep either. While you may be saving on the heating bill, shivering and teeth chattering is uncomfortable, and can keep you awake at night, Decker says. So find a comfortable temperature and maintain it, at least while you’re falling asleep.

Cut the light

We need bright sunshine to help us be alert and vigilant, and a lack of light in the wintertime can become a problem. When we don’t get enough brightness, we tend to feel a bit sleepy all day — and that means there’s no darkness signaling to the body at the end of the day that it’s time to sleep. The body doesn’t feel like it’s time to go to bed because you’ve been half asleep during the day. We suggest getting out into the sunlight as much as possible first thing in the morning — if you absolutely can’t, spend some time in front of a blue light machine. And at nighttime, be sure to minimize over-illumination (that means turning off the TV or shutting down that laptop at least an hour before you hit the pillow and keep artificial lights to a minimum).

a woman sleeps in a room with a dimmed light

Avoid heavy metals

A hardy meal may have a way of warming you from the inside out during those cold winter months, but it can also keep you up at night. When you eat a heavy meal in the evening, the body has to work harder to digest that food, Decker explains, which can actually keep you awake. He tells patients to aim to finish up mealtime four or five hours before bedtime to allow full digestion of food. If you are a late night eater, there are snacks before bed time that you can eat.

Exercise

There have been some nice studies that demonstrate that exercise can increase deep sleep. But, unfortunately, during the winter months we tend to feel sluggish and stop using up all our energy. For increased movement, and better rest, you could go for a simple brisk walk or opting for the stairs instead of the elevator to improve step count during the day.

An image of a woman exercising

Try not to oversleep on weekends

While this is a year-round struggle, the cold dreary days of wintertime have their own special way of making us want to stay in bed all day on the weekends. Unfortunately, though, altering sleep too much on Saturday and Sunday can set you up for bad patterns during the weekdays. While recapturing a little bit of sleep is great, try to avoid altering your bedtime and wake time by more than an hour or so.

Avoid dry air

That dry, cold winter air in your bedroom can really zap the moisture out of the nose. And when our nose dries out, we tend to open our mouths and start snoring, which can be the start of bad sleeping patterns. We recommend a humidifier or even a little waterfall to keep air moist — and the comforting white noise of both is an added bonus that can help to lull you to sleep. Additionally, you can spray sleep spray or use essential oils as well.

an image of a humidifier for better sleep

Keep your nasal airways open

Sleep helps us heal. But the irony of that is that when we’re suffering from a cold or flu, we’re often too stuffed up to get a good night’s rest. When we sleep, nature intends for us to breathe mostly through our nose. But when our noses are stuffed up, we naturally compensate by opening our mouths, which can lead to snoring and, generally speaking, a pretty bad night’s sleep. You can try anything that can help to open the nasal passages before sleep, whether that’s breathing in warm, moist air, trying a nose passage-opening product, or keeping the head elevated. You can also use a humidifier to ease sore and taking a bit of honey before bedtime.

Conclusion

Winter is specific in terms of sleep environment, because of cold and dry air. Some of us have difficulties to sleep because of aforementioned reasons, and also because of shorter light emission during winter. There are some ways to improve sleep quality in the winter, and they mostly revolve around adjusting temperature and light levels in your bedroom. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to skip heavy meals and avoid dry air in the room, or to keep your nasal airways clean.
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