We are right bang smack in the middle of winter which means it is peak sleep season. According to the US National Sleep Foundation we sleep on average 1.75 - 2.5 hrs more per night during winter and although it might be tempting to indulge this craving to lay around in bed (for those of us who can!), it is important to not oversleep. Oversleeping can lead to increased tiredness, lack of motivation and even depressive symptoms. Limiting sleep to 7 - 10 hours per night over winter is key.
For some people, myself included, winter can be a bit of a drag. I live for summer and being outdoors, at the beach etc. But there are some bonuses to winter and spending a bit more time in bed. Charging our batteries and replenishing ourselves after a somewhat overindulgent summer festive season can be just what we need! A nice way to think of this increased need to sleep is as a sort of hibernation.
Why do we sleep more in winter?
- Sunlight. Sunlight is a key communicator with our circadian rhythm to help let us know when to wake up and when to go to sleep. With less sunlight, we are more at the whim of obeying our alarm clocks and personally, I find my alarm clock much less motivating to leave the comfort of my bed compared to a warm sunny morning!
- The cold. This works two-fold… firstly our metabolism works harder when it's cold meaning that more rest is crucial to charge our batteries back up. And secondly (and admittedly more subjectively), it is just harder to get out of bed when it is cold and dark outside!
- Exercise and diet. Exercising in winter is just harder! There is less daylight to go for your walk and going to the gym or a class often feels similar to having to go to the dentist. Having less exercise can have the inverse effect of lowering our sleep quality and therefore meaning we need more sleep. In winter, it also seems harder to eat (and drink!) well. Having that late evening snack or ‘one-more’ glass of wine is tempting. Although this can often feel like it helps our sleep, it actually lowers our quality of sleep, meaning we will feel a bit more tired in the morning and feel like we are craving more sleep than usual.
So what are some easy tips for maintaining a good quality sleep in winter?
- Try not to oversleep. This can increase tiredness. Be aware of sleep ‘quality’ as well as duration.
- Try to eat well (careful with carbs/ sugars). This has a flow on effect to sleep quality.
- Make the most of those gaps in showers to get some fresh air. A bit of outside time helps dramatically with setting our circadian rhythm and therefore your sleep.
- Don’t heat your bedroom too much.. About 19/20C is ideal.
- Check out the Somni Sleep Ritual for more information around creating a routine which gets you ready for great quality sleep. https://somni.co.nz/blogs/somni-blog/creating-a-sleep-ritual-that-works
Lastly, enjoy the sleep season… as we have said, it is a great time to indulge in a bit more sleep time and that is not a bad thing!
Hamish & Aroha @ Somni