How To Get A Deeper Sleep During These Cold Winter Months

·4 min read
Struggling to sleep? (Photo: Dmitry Marchenko / EyeEm via Getty Images)
Struggling to sleep? (Photo: Dmitry Marchenko / EyeEm via Getty Images)

O sleep, o sleep, wherefore art though? One of life’s most regular gripes is not getting enough of the stuff at night despite feeling drouzy during the day.

You may find yourself dozing off in meetings, or after dinner, or even on the work commute, but once you’re in bed, the sleepiness is long gone. Then when it’s time to wake up in the morning, especially on cold winter mornings when you’d do anything you could to stay in bed, you’re feeling groggy again.

There may be a few reasons for this self-perpetuating cycle: overthinking, excessive mobile phone use, revenge bed-time procrastination? But the weather certainly has an effect, too.

In these winter months, it can certainly feel too cold (or too hot if you’ve got plenty of insulation) to sleep. But there are a few things you can do to change this and ensure you have a deep sleep every night or as often as you can.

We spoke to some experts to find out how.

Invest in winter nightwear

Sleep expert Alison Jones, at mattress brand Sealy UK, says what we choose to wear to bed has a direct impact on how hot or cold we are whilst asleep.

Jones says: “Summer nightwear, such as shorts and night dresses, aren’t always appropriate for the winter months, however wrapping up in multiple layers can also be disruptive to your sleep if your temperature soars. Consider long silk pyjama sets, which will not only add a touch of elegance to your evening routine, but will also help to preserve warmth whilst still being a lightweight option.

“Accessories such as wool knit throws, and cashmere socks are also great ways to keep your feet warm but without reducing your circulation.”

Warm yourself from the inside out

Eating a big meal before bed can disrupt the quality of your sleep, as your body works through the night to digest the food. “Instead, choosing light-weight winter warmers such as home-made vegetable soup can be a great way to warm up without reducing your sleep quality,” Jones advises.

“Hot drinks are also a great way to promote a flush of warmth from within before bedtime, however, be mindful of tea and coffee as the high caffeine contents will keep you up at night. Camomile tea is known to soothe specific receptors in our brain, decreasing anxiety which can keep people awake at night.”

Turn off the central heating before bed

Yes, really. As Jones says: “Although it can be tempting to turn the heating up to full to keep your room cosy, having your bedroom too warm throughout the night can impact on the quality of your sleep.”

“The optimum temperature during the night to ensure good quality sleep is 16-18°C, so it’s important to remember to turn down the heating with enough time to allow your room to cool.”

Be mindful during the day too

Natural health expert and chemist, Dr Tim Bond from Dragonfly CBD, says it matters what you do in the day as much as it does in the night if you want to sleep better.

“You can increase bright light exposure during the day,“he explains. “Research shows this helps night time sleep quality and duration. Aim for daily sunlight exposure as much as possible and failing that, invest in an artificial bright light device.

“Have plenty of exercise and try to ensure as much as possible of your daily exercise routine takes place outside

“Don’t sleep for long periods during the day as this can confuse your internal body clock (circadian rhythm) and affect your ability to sleep. Short ‘power naps’ up to 30 minutes are fine.”

And here’s what not to do...

Dr Bond adds: “Reduce blue light exposure in the evening before bed – smart phones, tablets and computers are the worst culprits in this regard. It’s best to stop watching TV and screens 2 hours before you go to bed.

“Don’t eat late in the evening as this may affect sleep quality and release of melatonin. Don’t drink alcohol in the evening. Even a couple of drinks can disrupt sleep. It alters melatonin which affects your circadian rhythm.”

You should develop a pre-bedtime routine that helps you relax, he advises – listen to gentle music, read a gentle book, have a warm bath and/or practise meditation.

“Identify the bedroom temperature which is comfortable for you – not too hot, not too cold – and stick to it. Some people have an issue dissipating heat from the body at night and a warm bedroom interferes with sleep.”

We wish you a restful sleep.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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