Winter Sleep Tips to Help You Sleep Better When It's Cold

Winter Sleep Tips to Help You Sleep Better When It's Cold

Although the first official day of winter isn't until December 21, it certainly feels like the season has made itself at home in most parts of the country already. As the season is typically associated with hibernation and cozying up for a long winter's nap by the fire, you'd be surprised to learn that the shorter days and colder weather actually present some particular challenges to getting your best sleep. Find out how to combat winter's icy hold and wake up refreshed each morning.

Temperature: You're probably thinking the issue lies in keeping your house too cold – and while it's true no one wants to sleep in sub-zero conditions, the more common issue is actually running your heater too high. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 68-72 degrees, so rather than cranking the heat, turn it down to 68 and layer up – your bed linens, that is. Combine soft sheets and cotton blankets so that you can adjust your temperature throughout the night without changing the thermostat. As an added bonus, your bank account will also appreciate the decrease in your heating bill!

Sunlight: With shorter and grayer days, it can be hard to get all the sunlight your body needs. Besides just putting a damper on our mood, lack of sunlight also confuses the body's internal clock by keeping us in a half asleep, early dawn state. Normally we rely on the sun rising and setting to trigger waking up and winding down. The solution? Seize any chance to get outside when the sun does make a rare appearance. If you live far north and those appearances are fewer and fewer, invest in a sunlight –simulating lamp and spend some time in front of it. Such lights can also help combat Seasonal Affective Disorder and can be all-around mood enhancers.

Exercise: During the warmer months, we often spend good deals of time doing outdoor activities. Exercise and an active lifestyle are closely linked with getting good shut eye at the end of the day, so it makes sense that when our exercise routine stagnates, our sleep suffers. So make a point to bundle up and get out there for a run or brisk walk anyways! (or if you're buried in snow, maybe just join a gym.)

Colds and Allergies: Unfortunately, on top of everything else, winter is also cold and allergy season. Getting to sleep is often made extra difficult by runny noses, sore throats, and hacking coughs. For allergy sufferers, there is little to be done beyond cleaning out your air filter to reduce pollen/dust blowing through your home, keeping a stash of Benadryl handy, and waiting out whatever you are allergic to. To help combat colds, wash hands frequently and try your best to avoid crowded, overheated rooms where germs can easily spread.

Modifying your environment and lifestyle slightly can make a world of difference when trying to get a good night's sleep this winter. Don't let the dreary weather ruin your good sleep habits!

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