Spring forward, fall back. It's been just over one week since daylight savings ended. How have you been feeling? Have you noticed that you've been feeling a bit off? Perhaps a mild case of jet lag? Changing the clocks in your house, easy. Changing your biological clock, challenging. Even though we only dialed our clocks back by one hour (and actually gained an hour of sleep), this change is large enough to throw your body's internal clock (circadian rhythm) out of sync, causing you to toss and turn all night long. To make matters worse, shorter days PLUS winter's cold temperatures and dry air is the precise recipe for making you feel all sorts of upside down and can wreak havoc on your cozy winter slumbers. If you are one of these people, we are here for you. Here are our top 6 ways on how to sleep better in the winter.
- Regular exercise. To be quite frank, there isn't a time of year when physical activity isn't a good thing for your body. But exercising in the winter time can be particularly beneficial for your sleep. Exercise can promote the synchronization of your internal clock, which will help you sleep better, eat better, and feel more like yourself during these long winter months.
- Resist the urge to nap. You're not the only one feeling extra drowsy in the late afternoon. However, if you give into this tiredness and take a midday nap, you will find it harder to fall asleep and/or stay asleep through the night. So fight this urge with everything you have so you can get all the zzz's your body truly needs.
- Get that (vitamin) D. Vitamin D is quite magical. Most notable, Vitamin D helps regulate your body's absorption of calcium, and helps keep your bones, teeth, brain, immune system, nervous system healthy and strong. But did you know that Vitamin D also serves as a one of the best mood and sleep quality boosters? Good Vitamin D levels have been linked to high quality sleep with increased sleep duration and lower risk of sleep disturbances! Interestingly, your body actually produces its own Vitamin D, in response to exposure to sunlight (for this very reason, Vitamin D is actually considered to be more like a hormone). Right about now, you're probably wondering, how else can you get good levels of Vitamin D, especially if you live in an area that gets limited sunlight during the winter? Do not panic. Luckily, you can also ingest your Vitamin D with egg yolks, cheeses, and fatty fish like tuna and salmon!
- Seek sunlight. In addition to getting as much Vitamin D as you can, light exposure stops your body's melatonin production and stimulates cortisol (your natural built-in alarms system and main stress hormone). In other words, seeing and feeling the sun is the key to get that quick, refreshed, get-up-and-go response you are looking for to have a productive day. Simply put, seeing the sun will help boost your mood and your energy levels!
- Resist the urge to snack. This one is probably the hardest one for me personally. As is, I'm a huge snacker already. Come nighttime, it's almost as if my chips craving takes over me. All of this, combined with dark, quiet, cold winter nights, it's almost torture. If you are like me and feel like this overwhelming desire to snack during the night, we have to stick together and fight the urge. Not only will our waistlines thank us, but eating and digesting right before bed makes it difficult for our bodies to properly transition into sleep mode. By signaling your body to digest all of the goodies you ate during your 11pm snack fest, you are actually altering your body's internal clock, which can result in poor quality sleep, maybe even 4am bathroom runs!
- Enjoy a warm foot soak before bed. Think of this as a little spa session in the comfort of your own home. After a long day of standing and walking, a nice warm foot soak soothes your muscles, relieves aches, reduces swelling, and deepens your sleep. Additionally, a warm foot soak will actually draw your body's blood down to your feet away from your head, alleviating any headaches, and deepening your relaxation. Pro tip: Add 2 drops of lavender essential oil to your foot bath to wash your stress away and send you into a night of deep sweet dreams.
With these six simple tips, you can say bye bye bye to restless nights and say hello to deep slumber all winter long. What are your favorite ways to get good sleep during the winter? Tell us in the comments below!