A Long Winter Sleep: Do We Actually Need More Sleep In the Winter?
A lack of sleep can increase your chances of getting sick and staying sick. And during the winter flu and cold season, that means that sleep is essential.
Even if you manage to avoid getting sick during the colder weather months, you may find yourself feeling drowsy and in need of a cozy wintertime nap.
This can seem like your body's way of telling you that you need extra sleep. But do you really need more sleep in the winter? And if not, how can you stave off your sleepiness? Read on to learn how to get enough winter sleep to stay healthy and energized.
Do Sleep Requirements Change With the Seasons?
It may seem like winter was designed just to make you sleepy. The days are dark and short, the cold weather can make it hard to stay active, and wrapping up in warm blankets can feel like the only solution.
But even if all you want to do during the winter is sleep, you don't actually need more sleep than during other times of the year.
In most cases, your body will still be fully functional and well-rested, as long as you get the right amount of sleep for you. For most adults, this is between seven and nine hours.
Still, there are some scientific and biological reasons why you might be feeling extra sleepy in the winter. They include:
- less sun exposure triggering changes to your circadian rhythm
- your home is too hot or too cold for proper sleep
- dietary changes and heavy foods (such as during the holidays) making you feel sluggish
- seasonal stress and depression (such as seasonal affective disorder)
- oversleeping or taking long naps during the winter months, leading to increased drowsiness after
The changes outside do affect our bodies. But that doesn't mean you need more sleep, and in fact too much sleep can trap you in a cycle of sleepiness.
Instead of increasing your time spent snoozing, you may need to make some intentional lifestyle and bedroom-related changes in order to improve your winter sleep.
How to Improve Your Winter Sleep
When it comes to sleep in the wintertime, the key is quality over quantity.
Like any time of year, you should get enough sleep, but there's no need to take extra naps or sleep in every morning.
Focus on improving the quality of your winter sleep with these tips.
Find an Optimal Bedroom Temperature
Perhaps more than any other time of year, bedroom temperature is crucial in the winter.
No one wants to be freezing in their own bed. But surprisingly, that doesn't mean you must pile on thick blankets and warming bedding.
It might seem counterintuitive, but cooling bedding can help you sleep better during the winter. That's because most people sleep best in a cool environment, not a hot or cold one. If you keep your heater on overnight, choose bedding that will prevent overheating.
On the other hand, if you struggle to keep warm while sleeping or if you live in an especially cold climate, put on some flannel pajamas, don your toastiest socks, and try bedding designed to warm you up.
Soak Up the Sun
It might be dreary and the days are short, but while the sun is up, you should be too.
Avoid sleeping too late in the mornings, and try to get outside during the day. This can help to regulate your circadian rhythm.
And if the sun isn't up yet when your alarm goes off, consider a light with a built-in timer. You can set the light to come on before your alarm, giving your body the illusion of sunlight and helping you to wake up feeling refreshed.
Don't Eat Before Bed
The winter chill can increase cravings for comfort foods, but don't give into them soon before bed. This can make you feel too heavy and sluggish to fall asleep comfortably, while also increasing nighttime digestive issues (like acid reflux) which can interrupt your much-needed sleep.
Along with food, it's important to note that alcohol can also disrupt your sleep cycle and quality. Winter holiday celebrations may have you pulling out the booze, but limit how much you drink in order to preserve your sleep.
The last thing you feel like doing in the winter may be peeling off the covers and getting up for a brisk walk or intense workout. But your body needs a balance of activity and rest.
If you rest too much during the day, it can be harder to fall asleep (and stay asleep) at night.
Going for a run, hitting the gym, or trying a workout in your living room can be enough to help improve your winter sleep.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you're still struggling to sleep or feel well-rested each day, talk to your doctor about alternative solutions.
This time of year, insomnia and other sleep-related issues may be exasperated. It's important to find a treatment that fits your unique needs and lifestyle. Your doctor may recommend melatonin supplements or other treatment and therapy options to make it easier to sleep.
Sleep Better, Not Longer
Wintertime can be a busy season for many, with holiday celebrations, the start of a new year, and your regularly scheduled responsibilities all demanding your time.
It can be hard to get it all done when you just want to sleep. But remember, you don't need more sleep in the colder temperatures. You just need better winter sleep.
Improve your sleep quality and stay cozy all winter long with our snuggly comforters and other high-quality bedding!