Why Winter may be affecting your sleep
Have you noticed that your sleeping patterns are out of sync since the dark nights set in? You're not the only one. Charlotte Cooper finds out why...
By Charlotte Cooper
What causes a change in our sleeping habits during the winter, and what can we do about it?
Feeling sleepier in the winter and more energised in the summer is not as unusual as you might think. As the season’s change, so do the hormones in our bodies which in turn affects our body clock. It’s no surprise then that during the winter months our bodies feel more sluggish, we have lower energy levels, and despite the number of hours we rack up on sleep, it never seems to be enough.
The north of England is renowned for its cooler temperatures throughout the year and winter is certainly no exception. The winter weather doesn’t just make us cold but also makes the air drier because of reduced moisture levels. Going straight for the thermostat is probably not the best thing as it adds to indoor dryness. Top tip to combat the problem: Invest in a humidifier that will regulate the moisture levels in your home and aim for levels around 25-40% during the coldest months.
Despite thinking that darker mornings allow us to have a lie-in, this could affect your sleep, making you feel drowsy during the day. Our bodies require a certain amount of natural light exposure to produce the melatonin hormone, which regulates sleep duration. In the winter, we tend to spend more time indoors reducing our exposure to natural light, therefore, reducing our melatonin hormone levels. Top tip to combat the problem: Try and enjoy the outdoors to ensure enough natural light exposure. Walking to work or even going outside during your lunch hour will dramatically decrease your urge to sleep. We recommend: If you are willing to splash the cash then invest in a Lumie Vitamin L SAD light, £89.99 John Lewis. The light therapy solution claims to improve your mood, energy and focus.
Change in our Eating Habits
Winter not only brings cooler weather but also richer, stodgier foods. High-calorie Christmas treats, and festive sugary sweets are the foods which are killing our essential sleep time. Fatty foods can easily disrupt the chemical hormone leptin, which our bodies also use to regulate the sleep cycle. When we are at our most tired, we often crave more of these unhealthy and rich foods because our bodies don’t know when we are full, meaning that the unhealthy cycle which breaks down our sleep continues. Top tip to combat the problem: Try feeding your cravings with something healthier like soup, salmon and leafy greens. These food groups are great alternatives for keeping your stomach happy and your mind happy. We recommend: If you are really craving comfort food such as chocolate, try one of the Raw Chocolate bars from local business Chocolateeha. The low-calorie chocolate company offers this vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, lactose-free bar of smooth chocolate with only 180 calories in it.
The Power of Blue Light
A common cause of a bad night’s sleep throughout the year and not just in winter is due to looking at our phones just before bed. Blue light emits from our smartphones or tablets, which delays the melatonin hormone, waking our brains up and resetting our body clocks. Instead of winding down for the night, the use of technology increases our alertness and makes it even more challenging to sleep. Top tip to combat the problem: Try and eliminate emitting blue light for at least one hour before bed. Watching television is also included too, so pick up a good book and read a few pages before you try and sleep.We recommend: We know that it can be tough to leave your phone in another room, especially when work may be calling. So, buy a pair of blue light filtering glasses like these ones from Felix Gray, approx £112.00