Feeling sleepy as the temperatures drop? Finding it more difficult to roll out of bed when the sun is still tucked away? Us too.
Winter is near and, with the shift in season, the days are shorter, darker, and colder. These are all changes that can negatively impact our sleep.
Our bodies are regulated by our circadian rhythm, or body clock. This is the biological function that maintains routine by exposure to light. When we don’t absorb enough Vitamin D from the sun, our bodies don’t release enough melatonin, a hormone that impacts sleep. This is especially true for those of us who get up for work before the sun rises and don’t leave the office until it’s dark outside. This lack of melatonin can lead to daytime drowsiness, feelings of depression, and reduced sleep efficiency.
So how can we ensure optimal health and regulated sleeping patterns, even with the darker days? Thankfully, winter has been around forever for researchers to experiment with. Here are some of their tips to ensure we are getting enough Vitamin D during the day and sleeping well into the night all winter long.
- Keep the Temperature Regulated. It can be tempting to crank up the thermostat on those cold winter nights. Even better, who doesn’t love a crackling fire when the snow is falling? Resist the urge though and opt for a cozy blanket or cup of non-caffeinated tea. Because our core temperature drops when preparing for bed, it is important to keep the room between 60-70 degrees to agree with our bodies. This creates consistency and allows us to fall into deep sleep patterns for a restful night.
- Change the Sheets. The way we view our bed can also be important to a good night sleep. Is your bed soft? Clean? Cozy? Take time and care to create an inviting space for your body to sleep through the night. A comfortable mattress, soft sheets, fluffy pillows, and furry blankets are hard to resist when the world is dark and cold outside.
- Soak Up the Vitamin D. The days may be shorter, but there are still rays to be soaked outside. Move your work desk closer to a window and indulge in some fatty fish, an excellent food source of Vitamin D, for lunch. If you are vegetarian, drink 3 cups of almond or soy milk every day. Even though it’s cold outside, bundle up and take Fido for a walk. Research shows that even 15 minutes of natural Vitamin D from the sun is beneficial in the winter.
- Exercise Well, Eat Well, Sleep Well. Maintain a healthy diet, even in the dead of winter. Hydration, whole foods, vitamins, and nutrients are just as important in the winter as they are in the summer. Daily exercise is necessary, even when it’s snowing outside. You can even switch up your workout routine and opt for a more seasonal trend—hot yoga, for example. A healthy, hydrated, and exercised body will guarantee a better nights sleep.