Have you ever noticed that winter affects your sleep quality a lot more drastically than you’d expect? During the winter, you have a harder time waking up in the morning, and you’re a lot sleepier at night, but it can often be hard to get to sleep once you’re in bed? The truth is that the shorter days and longer nights can affect the quality of your sleep—here’s what you need to know about how to sleep better in winter:
The Melatonin Factor
Your body produces melatonin once the sun goes down, and the neurochemical is intended to help you get to sleep. Its production decreases as the sun rises, thus making it easier to wake up. The reason you feel sleepy so much earlier in the winter is due to the earlier sunset. Because the sun is going down earlier, you’re producing melatonin much earlier, so your evenings are longer and feel drowsier. It’s also harder to wake up in the morning because the world outside is still dark—no sunrise to boost your melatonin production.
The Problem with Winter
The downside is that because your body is producing more melatonin earlier yet you’re not going to bed right away (who wants to sleep at 5 PM?), it takes more melatonin to make you feel drowsy when you do finally go to bed. You may end up tossing and turning a lot more because your body caught its “second wind” of energy, so it can be difficult to get to sleep. The key, therefore, is to do everything you can to stave off that surge of melatonin until it’s time to get to bed.
Make Your Evenings Bright
While you can’t do much about the earlier sunset, you can do a lot to keep your home and environment bright for hours after dark. Make it a point to turn on all your bright lights from the moment the sun sets until 7 or 8 PM, the time of night when you want to start winding things down to head towards bed. The bright lights will mimic the sun and trick your body into producing less melatonin, but when you dim the lights, melatonin production will increase. Ultimately, you’ll have an easier time getting to sleep if you keep your early evenings bright.
Get Lots of Daylight
The key to ensuring proper melatonin production is to keep your body on a schedule, but it helps to get more daylight when the sun is up and bright. Sit as close to a window as possible once the sun rises, and get out for an hour or so in the middle of the day. This will help to decrease melatonin levels during the day, helping you to feel more alert and awake. Then, when the sun drops and evening sets in, you’ll feel drowsy and dozy once more.
Exercise is critical for helping you maintain a regular sleep schedule. Even if your melatonin spikes earlier in the day, you’ll find that an evening workout will do wonders to keep you awake until it’s time to get to bed. You’ll be so exhausted from the intense workout that you’ll have no problem getting to sleep.
Drop the Temperature
If your home is heated to the max, it’s going to make comfy sleeping very difficult. Cold temperatures are much more conducive to sleep, and you’ll find that a cool house will make you want to bundle up under your blankets, helping you to relax in the evenings and drift off all warm and snuggled up.