Sleep tips for the cold season

In autumn & winter, many people suffer from daytime fatigue, listlessness or sleep problems. How the increasingly cold days and lack of sunlight affect sleep and what you can do to still sleep restfully and start the day full of energy in the morning, we explain to you here.

Table of contents

  1. Sleep in winter
  2. Difficult sleep in winter
  3. 4 sleep tips for the cold seasons
  4. Relax and get enough sleep

Sleep in winter

It's slowly getting cold and wet outside, nature is preparing for winter and, at the latest after the time change in autumn, it gets dark earlier in the evening. This upsets our sleep rhythm and our inner clock needs some time to get used to the new circumstances after the warm summer months. However, it is not uncommon for us to continue to suffer from daytime fatigue, listlessness or low energy levels even after adjusting to winter time. Especially in autumn and the snowy winter months our body is particularly challenged, because then important daylight is missing, we are more susceptible to colds and illnesses and also our skin, hair and nails suffer from the cold temperatures, dry out, become brittle and weak.

This makes it all the more important to get enough good sleep, because at night we fill our energy stores, the immune system works at full speed and our skin, hair and nails are repaired and renewed.

Difficult sleep in the winter time

It has been scientifically proven that our need for sleep varies at different times of the year and that we generally need a little more sleep in winter. However, especially in winter there are numerous factors that can prevent a good night's sleep or worsen the quality of sleep.

The internal clock is strongly oriented towards daylight and adapts our sleep-wake behaviour to the natural course of the day. As the days get shorter and it gets colder outside, we spend more time indoors and receive less daylight, which our bodies already lack due to fewer hours of sunlight during the winter months. This also affects the production of the important sleep hormone melatonin in the evening and works against falling asleep quickly and having a restful sleep.

Schlaf: Tageslichtverteilung im Jahresverlauf

But various external circumstances and changes in the sleeping environment can also make a good night's sleep in winter a challenge. Cold temperatures, dry heating air, unfavourable sleeping clothes or a change in eating habits also work against a restful sleep. So, especially in the cold seasons, good sleep hygiene is important for daily performance, our health and enough energy in everyday life.

4 sleep tips for the cold seasons

#1 Temperature & Thermal ManagementSchlafumgebung, Raumtemperatur, Decken, Kissen und Schlafkleidung im WinterDuring the night, when we come to rest and sleep, our body temperature also slowly decreases. When we sweat or freeze, our body becomes active to regulate body temperature and prevent hypothermia or overheating. This has a negative effect on the process of falling asleep and makes it difficult to sleep through the night.

Tip: Make sure that the room temperature is cool, but not too cold (16-18 degrees Celsius is recommended) and prefer breathable sleeping accessories (pillows, blankets, mattresses) and suitable sleeping clothes. Especially avoid tight-fitting blankets and clothing (e.g. tight socks), as these can disturb the blood circulation and promote sweating during the night.

#2 Humidity and indoor climateLuftfeuchtigkeit, Raumklima und richtiges Lüften für den guten SchlafIn autumn and winter, temperatures in the home and our sleeping environment are often higher than outside, which in combination with heavy heating or incorrect ventilation behaviour creates a warm, dry indoor climate. However, the excessively low humidity irritates the nose, respiratory tract and our mucous membranes, causing them to dry out easily, especially overnight, impairing breathing and permanently disrupting sleep.

Tip: Try to ventilate sufficiently and correctly in winter and maintain a medium level of humidity (ideally between 40 % and 60 %) in order to create a pleasant room climate and also to supply the body with sufficient oxygen at night.

#3 DietErnährung und Flüssigkeitszufuhr am TagOur diet has a big impact on the quality of our sleep. Especially in winter, we more often consume heavy, high-fat or high-carbohydrate meals or reach for sugary nerve foods, which put a strain on the digestive system and make it difficult to fall asleep, especially in the last few hours before bedtime.

And certain nutrients, such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, also disrupt sleep. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh were able to prove that more alcohol is drunk when it is cold and there is no sunlight. This dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow in our body, creating a feeling of warmth.

Tip: Avoid heavy meals in the evening, make sure you consume a moderate amount of alcohol and try to drink enough fluids during the day in winter. In this article you can find out which foods you can specifically promote your sleep.

#4 Exercise & DaylightAktivität, Bewegung, Sport im Tageslicht an der frischen LuftExercise and sporting activity keep the circulation going, have a positive effect on the metabolism and promote healthy sleep. During the cold fall and winter months, it is also important to consume enough daylight to regulate sleep-wake cycles and ensure restful sleep.

Tip: Integrate exercise regularly into your daily routine and spend as much time as possible outdoors during the day. Even moderate exercise or relaxing walks keep us fit, increase sleep pressure in the evening and improve sleep.

Relax purposefully and get enough sleep

When cold, dark and stormy weather increasingly dominate everyday life, sleep should definitely not be neglected. In order to stay healthy and productive during the day, to have a strong immune system to protect us from nasty pathogens and to keep our spirits up, it is extremely important to relax sufficiently and to sleep well at night. And if you wake up rested and refreshed in the morning, you can make the most of the day and create ideal conditions for enjoying the golden autumn and a romantic, snowy winter to the full.

Conclusion

  • Cold, lack of daylight as well as dry heating air, unfavourable sleeping clothes, bad room climate or a change in eating habits disrupt sleep in winter
  • Ensure a pleasant sleeping environment with a moderate room climate (temperature: 16 - 18 degrees Celsius, average humidity), choose suitable sleeping clothes and ensure an overall pleasant sleeping temperature.
  • Avoid heavy meals before going to bed and stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol in large quantities to promote sleep.
  • Stay active and exercise regularly, preferably in the fresh air, to consume as much daylight as possible at the same time to support sleep-regulating hormone production

Best wishes and see you soon!

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