5 Ways Cold Weather Can Mess with Your Sleep, and How to Deal with it

5 Ways Cold Weather Can Mess with Your Sleep, and How to Deal with it

With temperatures due to plummet this week, you may find your sleep routine is affected. For this guide, sleep expert Martin Seeley shares five ways the cold weather can mess with your sleep and how to deal with it.

(1). Its harder to fall asleep
When the temperature in our bedroom is chilly, this can often make it much harder to fall asleep quickly, as our body needs time to warm up and increase its temperature before we can be comfortable enough to drop off.

Even though it’s considered healthier to sleep in a cooler room as opposed to a heated one, if you’re too cold during sleep, your body may alter its cardiac autonomic response, which means your heart rate will increase, and you may find it even harder to have a good night’s sleep.

How to deal with it
Try to get warm before you jump into bed, take a hot bath or shower, and wear warm bed clothes to bed, such as thermals, long PJs and fluffy bed socks. Ensure your duvet is thick enough and you have blankets to help with the cold.

If you have the heating on during certain hours of the day, try to help the heat make its way to your bedroom by closing off doors to unused rooms but keep the kitchen door open so any heat from the oven or general living space moves through to your room.

(2). Draughts cause shallow sleep
Whilst some may argue it’s good for you to have a breeze blowing into your room at night, it’s actually been proven to do the opposite.

Studies have found that being in the way of moving cool air, whether this is from a window, a door, a fan or an air conditioner, causes people to move around more in their sleep and increases the possibility of being woken and disturbed, and when people shift around in their sleep, this increase heart rates and will likely mean you will wake up more often.

How to deal with it
Block out any draughts that could be messing with your sleep. Bundle up some clothes and pile them next to the door opening to stop draughts. For windows, your curtains should stop any draughts; however, if the curtains are often too short, allowing the air may seep underneath, so you may also need to block any window seals with extra material or clothes. Or purchase floor-length, heavy winter curtains. Don’t have any fans or air conditioners blowing on you.

(3). The cold makes your body work harder
Whilst it has been noted through various studies that cold weather has a better effect on sleep quality overall than hot weather (hot, humid weather can cause people to sleep less deeply and wake up a lot), the cold can affect your sleep in a different and rather unusual way.

Sleeping in a cold room can make your body work a little harder; heart rates go up during the winter time, as well as blood pressure rates; experts have even noted higher rates of heart attacks during winter time.

How to deal with it
There’s not too much you can do to naturally lower your heart rate and blood pressure during the night; this is up to your body’s natural response to the temperature of your room. But you can help to keep your body warm by wearing warm enough thermal Pajamas to bed, a bed jumper and warm socks. Double down on duvets and blankets to ensure you stay extra warm.

If you sleep with a partner, you may want to use two duvets instead of one to ensure one person doesn’t hog it all night and the other person is cold.

(4). Its harder to rise early
One of the hardest aspects when waking up during winter is the lack of natural sunlight in the room. During the summer, the natural light that enters the room each morning can often help us to wake up naturally as it signals to our brain that it’s time to rise.

During the darker mornings, this can become increasingly more difficult, with the lack of light making it hard to wake up our internal body clock (circadian rhythm), and you may find that your brain wants you to wake up, but your body is saying something different.

How to deal with it
There are many ways to help you to wake up early a little easier during winter; you may want to purchase a light box as this can often help make your mornings a little easier. Lightboxes essentially replicate sunlight and are an effective way to add light to your mornings. These boxes are set to light up when your alarm goes off to help your body wake up.

Consuming something hot as soon as you wake up should help. As should taking a hot shower first thing, setting a soothing alarm, and giving yourself a 10-second rule to get out of bed, so you’re not lying there fixating on the cold.

(5). You may experience daytime drowsiness
The darker mornings and evenings essentially mean that our body is seeing less light during the day, which affects our natural circadian rhythm leaving us to feel sleepier earlier in the day. Furthermore, this lack of light also increases the production of the melatonin hormone, which means we feel ready for bed earlier than usual.

While studies have shown that cold weather can help us to feel sleepy, this isn’t ideal during the day when we have things to do. And often, by the time bedtime rolls around, we feel too cold to drop off to sleep easily.

How to deal with it
Purchasing a lightbox is a great way to replicate sunlight if your home feels dark and cold due to the lack of natural sunlight. This is especially important if you work from home and need to continue working when it gets dark.

Try to maintain a regular exercise routine, as working out and staying active will increase your energy levels. Maintaining a nutritious diet will also help; try to avoid eating too many heavy, stodgy foods, however tempting it is when it’s cold.

Avoid sitting on or lying in your bed if it’s not bedtime, as this will only make you feel even more tired and drowsy, and you may be tempted to nap, but this type of junk sleep is not considered good for you.

The above guide was written for us by Martin Seeley, a sleep expert and the CEO of Mattressnextday.

Read more health guides, news and features here.

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