As the days get longer, revamp your sleep schedule to get the restorative sleep that will make you feel your best!
Many people feel more tired during the wintertime. Sleep.org reports that almost half of adults may sleep up to 2 hours longer each night during the winter. However, it looks like extra sleep may not mean more productivity – students are tardy or absent more in the winter, and their grades reflect that.
To prevent the winter slump and maintain energy levels to feel your best, consider the following tips:
Get sufficient light. With fewer daylight hours in the winter, your body will produce more melatonin, and your sleep schedule can get mixed up, causing daytime sleepiness. Getting lots of sunlight in the morning hours is important. Try moving your workspace nearer a window, taking walks on breaks, or investing in a light therapy lamp. Light therapy lamps, sometimes called SAD lamps (seasonal affective disorder) encourage a normal circadian rhythm, which can improve sleep.
Stay cool. When winter is on, it is tempting to crank up the thermostat – but that is not the path to a better night’s sleep. Lowering your skin temperature before hitting the sack can help you sleep more soundly and have fewer sleep interruptions. A bedroom temperature in the mid-60’s (Fahrenheit), or even cooler is best for sleeping.
Maintain an exercise routine. Exercise is good for you year-round but particularly helpful to sleep patterns in winter. People tend to be more sedentary during the winter months, and exercise tells our bodies when it is time to be wakeful and prepares us for a better rest later.
Eat a light dinner and fewer nighttime snacks. Winter meals are often more hearty, warm, and heavy. Americans like their chili, casseroles, and warm soups and stews. These foods are often carb-heavy and make us sleepy. Heavy meals and loads of snacks at night also cause your digestive system to work overtime, which alters circadian rhythms and makes it difficult to convert to sleep mode.
Limit screen time. Winter months give us more time to binge Netflix, watch movies, and catch up on reading. We also tend to look at our phones more and more these days, even watching videos and reading books on them as well. All of that blue light alters our brain signals – affecting melatonin secretion as well as many other hormones that regulate blood sugars, hunger, and wakefulness. Studies show that it is best to avoid screen time for two to three hours before bedtime. If you find yourself needing to read, put aside the tablet and pick up an old-fashioned book instead.
Pay attention to indoor air quality. For those with pre-existing sleep disorders, the winter season can exacerbate those conditions. According to ResMed, a provider of sleep apnea treatment devices, “respiration problems in sleep apnea appear to worsen during the colder months of the year.” One of the culprits of this phenomenon is a change in air quality. Indoor air in the winter months is typically much drier, and using a humidifier might provide more comfort and prevent dry mouth and sinuses. If you have pre-existing sleep difficulties, you may need to see your specialist if you find that your routine isn’t working as well over the winter.
As we head into fall, maintain peak productivity and restorative sleep by paying heed to your body’s needs and preparing to improve your sleep habits. By preparing throughout the day, you set yourself up for a successful sleep routine and better mornings as a result!