Written by Shea Morrison, Co-Founder of The Goodnight Co
The winter slow down – Winter welcomes you to quiet your mind, be still and listen to your intuition. During the dark of winter, trees slow their metabolism to become dormant, bears and other animals enter the long sleep of hibernation. Similarly, you can focus on building your internal energy by getting more restorative sleep.
Right now in Australia we are in the middle of winter, short days, cold mornings and chilly nights – hard to drag yourself out of bed. Winter is the season of cuddles and curling up inside on the couch, hiding from the cold, lots of baking and binge-watching. You would think with all that nesting you’d be sleeping like a baby during the winter season. BUT winter and cold weather comes with its own sleep challenges for lots of people – including a disrupted sleep schedule, feelings of lethargy, and plenty of tossing and turning.
Here at The Goodnight Co., we are always encouraging our community to focus on building a consistent sleep routine to help the body understand the cues to prepare for sleep. If this sounds a bit overwhelming start with small steps, try pulling together a couple of steps to help unwind before bed. For example, cutting out screens at least an hour before bed, having a warm shower or bath and swapping out the piece of chocolate after dinner with a cup of herbal tea.
Here are some other steps to consider for a better nights’ sleep in winter:
1. Reduce exposure to light at night time (and not just blue light)
Light plays a big role in timing our daily lives, when we eat our meals, exercise, work and sleep. During winter we have less light and often it is poorer quality than the summer light. This can lead to increased tiredness, since less light equals more melatonin (the hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle). People often feel sleepy earlier during those cold winter night but you need to make sure that you are not adjusting your sleep time too much as this can have an impact on your wake time (and who wants to be waking at 4.00am every morning).
2. Pay special attention to temperature
When it’s cold outside, people tend to reach for flannelette pyjamas and thick blankets but getting to body too hot could be one of the reasons you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep. Most people have a drop in their core body temperature as they get sleepy, but their temperature goes up a few hours into dreamtime, making the sleep environment way too hot if they’re wearing lots of warm clothes. Overheating during the night can cause you to sweat and sleep more fitfully. Try swapping the heavy PJ’s with something lighter and regulated your temperature with your bedding. Use layers of bedding (sheets, light and heavy blankets) and that way you can un-layer during the night to make sure you’re not overheating.
3. Don’t stop exercising
It is easy to hit the snooze button when it’s cold… but to continue sleep well, it’s very important to have a plan for maintaining exercise during the winter months. Research continues to show that people who get regular exercise sleep significantly better. A 2011 study in the journal Mental Health and physical activity found that people who were more active fell asleep and reported a better quality of sleep.
4. Stay as healthy as possible
Sleeping with the sniffles is no easy feat! To strengthen your immune system naturally, your first line of defence is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when getting adequate, quality sleep. Our immunity range is developed to support just that.
5. Consider Supplements
While sleeping pills and supplements aren’t for everyone, they can have a place in helping you to either get to sleep or get more restorative deep sleep. Just be sure you’re not relying on pills or supplements that are habit-forming.
To find out more about the science of sleep, head to the Journal.