Winter Sleep Problems Explained

Sleep Problems? Blame Old Man Winter.

We’ve all blamed winter for our sleepiness, restlessness, or overwhelming urge to take a nap at some point in our lives. What you may not know is that the weather and even habits associated with cold weather may be taking their toll on your sleep quality. And no matter how tough or disciplined you are, your body physically needs a good amount of quality sleep every night to stay in top form. So read up and learn how to keep sleep problems at bay until the weather’s warmer!

1. Keeping The House Too Hot or Too Cold

Snuggling up in a toasty room may sound relaxing on a cold winter’s night, but it’s really setting you up for a sleepless night. On the other side of the coin, shivering and suffering with chattering teeth in the middle of the night isn’t worth saving a few bucks on your heat bill, so make sure you can’t see your breath in your bedroom. Your body acclimates to the room temperature while you sleep, so keeping it somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees is often ideal.

2. Lack of Sunshine

Bright sunshine during the day helps us feel alert and energized. Gloomy days and early sunsets in the winter months can make that hard to come by. That means our body doesn’t get the in-your-face trigger that the day starts, or a clear signal at the end of the day that it’s bedtime. That can make falling asleep a long-winded chore. If you can’t get any sunshine during the day, at least make sure your bedroom is dark and free of lights from digital gadgets. If problems persist, try a sleep supplement.

3. Comfort Foods

Hot, hearty meals seem like the perfect way to polish off a cold day and warm up your belly, but it can end up keeping you up at night. A meal loaded with carbs too close to bedtime sends your digestive system into overtime and means your body isn’t ready to go to bed for up to 4 or 5 hours after you eat. Try a lighter meal or eat an early dinner if you can’t give up your savory dishes.

4. Lack Of Exercise

Everyone knows that exercise is a good way to use up your energy, which means you sleep better at night. But winter tends to make you feel sluggish and more likely to skip that morning jog. If cold air is keeping you indoors, try to at least take the stairs at work, or pop in a DVD workout at home.

5. Oversleeping On The Weekends

Cold, dreary days make you want to sleep in on the weekends. While rewarding yourself on the weekend sounds harmless enough, it can throw off your sleep pattern and make getting to sleep when the workweek starts problematic.

6. Dry Air

Moisture isn’t always a bad thing, especially when it comes to the air in your house during the winter. Dry air sucks the moisture out of your nose and doesn’t do your lungs any favors either. When your nose dries out during sleep, your mouth opens to take over breathing…and that can lead to snoring. If the air in your house is overly dry, try a humidifier for a more restful sleep environment.

7. Cold And Flu Season

When you’re sick, sleep is the best medicine. But often when you’re battling a cold or flu, sleep doesn’t come easily. Your body’s natural tendency is to breathe through your nose, but if you’re all stuffed up that just doesn’t work. That means breathing through your mouth, possible snoring, and restless sleep.
Studies suggest that getting less than 6 hours of sleep every night makes you more likely to smoke, drink excessively, not exercise, and suffer from obesity.

Did You Know?

Not enough or poor quality sleep increases your body’s levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is beneficial in normal amounts – but elevated amounts of cortisol start to cause problems. Too much cortisol can cause weight gain, lower testosterone levels, impair immunity, promote muscle loss, and increase blood pressure. Another good reason to turn off the TV and hit the pillow earlier!

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