Winter is Coming…Ways Winter Can Affect Your Sleep

Winter is coming…along with decreased vitamin D levels, heat, sunlight, and time to buy those Christmas presents. But those and the amount of Christmas songs blaring at the grocery store aren’t the only things changing with the season, your ability to sleep does too. 

Don’t worry, you can just sleep as much and wake up just as rejuvenated as before, but it might take some conscious effort for some of us who are pretty affected by the seasons. 

Here are some ways that the advent of winter might affect your sleep and the steps you can take to stave off any sleep deprivation. 

1. Your overall mood might take a dip.

Many people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder triggered by the winter gloom and darkness. The blues can make people less energetic and want to sleep more. To counter this, check out some tips on how you can boost your energy throughout the day so you aren’t dozing off too early. If your mood sours in the direction of stress and anxiety though, this could render you unable to sleep instead. 

Fortunately, there are a lot of easy stress-relieving activities you can pepper in throughout your day to better help you unwind before bed.

2. Less sunlight means less vitamin D.

One major winter complaint is how the sun sets before dinner.  Sunlight is a major factor in our body’s production of vitamin D, which influences our serotonin production. This means you’ll need to make a deliberate effort to get some sunlight every day, whether it’s sitting by a window or taking a walk during the day. Vitamin D supplements can be found at most grocery stores and are pretty affordable, so give them a try too.

3. Cooler temperatures can make it easier to sleep, but not if they’re too cool.

The ideal room temperature for sleep is around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Depending on where you live, winter can take you towards those numbers or drop you way below them. If you’re in an area where there’s no such thing as winter and it’s still hot, check out a Lull pillow or mattress with a cooling top layer if you haven’t already. 

4. Storms might dial up the loudness of nature.

For many regions, winter usually means more storms, which means more lightning and falling trees. These chaotic noises can cause anxiety to spike, which we know is adversarial for sleep. While you can’t get the rain and lightning to stop, you can distract yourself a little with white noise machines, noise-canceling earbuds made specifically for sleeping, or apps made for sleeping. Most of these apps typically feature bedtime stories you can listen to and soothing sounds like waterfalls and gentle rainfalls. 

5. If you have certain sleep conditions, they might worsen.

Sleep apnea has been observed to worsen during the winter. Studies have shown a 20% increase in breathing disruptions. One reason is the lower humidity many people experience during winter — cold dry air can dry out your nasal passages, making them more vulnerable to viruses. Insomnia can also worsen in winter if the temperature drops too far or again if the noise and anxiety from frequent storms keep you awake.

If you’re experiencing that winter dryness, no need to pack up and move to the tropics: check out a humidifier if you haven’t already. Some humidifiers were made with sleep in mind and can even play relaxing sounds to further lull you to sleep.