Sleep tips for the cold season

In autumn and winter, many people suffer from daytime tiredness, listlessness or sleep problems. Here we explain how the increasingly cold days and lack of sunlight affect sleep and what you can do to still sleep well and start the day full of energy.

Table of Contents

  1. Sleep in winter
  2. Difficult to sleep in wintertime
  3. 4 sleeping tips for the cold season
  4. Relax and get enough sleep

Sleep in winter

It's slowly getting cold and wet outside, nature is preparing for winter and after the time change in autumn at the latest, it's getting dark earlier again in the evenings. This throws our sleep rhythm upside down and our inner clock needs some time to get used to the new circumstances after the warm summer months. It is not uncommon for us to continue to suffer from daytime tiredness, listlessness or a low energy level even after we have adjusted to winter. Our body is particularly challenged in autumn and the snowy winter months, because then there is a lack of important daylight, we are more susceptible to colds and illnesses and our skin, hair and nails also suffer from the cold temperatures, dry out, become brittle and weak.

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

Difficult to sleep in wintertime

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. But 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 behavior 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 the fewer hours of sunshine in the winter months. This also influences the production of the important sleep hormone melatonin in the evening and counteracts falling asleep quickly and restful sleep.

Schlaf: Tageslichtverteilung im Jahresverlauf

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

4 sleeping tips for the cold season

#1 Temperature & thermal managementSchlafumgebung, Raumtemperatur, Decken, Kissen und Schlafkleidung im WinterAt night, when we rest and sleep, our body temperature slowly drops. When we sweat or feel cold, our body kicks in to regulate body temperature and prevent overcooling 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 the room temperature is cool but not too cold (16-18 degrees Celsius is recommended) and prefer breathable sleeping accessories (pillows, blankets, mattresses) and a suitable sleeping clothes. In particular, avoid blankets and clothing that are too tight (e.g. tight socks), as these can disrupt blood circulation and promote sweating at night.

#2 Humidity and room climateLuftfeuchtigkeit, Raumklima und richtiges Lüften für den guten SchlafIn autumn and winter, the temperatures in the apartment and sleeping environment are often higher than outside, which is associated with heavy heating or incorrect ventilation creates a warm, dry room climate. However, the low humidity irritates the nose, respiratory tract and our mucous membranes and causes them to dry out easily, especially at night, impairs breathing and sleep is permanently disturbed.

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

#3 NutritionErnährung und Flüssigkeitszufuhr am TagOur nutrition has a major impact on the quality of our sleep. In winter in particular, we eat heavy, high-fat or carbohydrate-rich meals more frequently or resort to 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 going to bed.

And certain nutrients, such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol, also disrupt sleep. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh were able to show that people drink more alcohol when it is cold and there is no sunlight. This widens the blood vessels, increases blood flow in our body and creates a feeling of warmth.

Tip: Avoid heavy meals in the evening, ensure moderate alcohol consumption and try to drink enough fluids during the day, even in winter. You can find out which foods you can use to specifically promote your sleep in this article.

#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. In the cold autumn and winter months, it is also important to consume enough daylight to regulate the sleep-wake cycle and to guarantee a restful sleep.

Tip: Integrate exercise regularly into everyday life and spend as much time as possible in the fresh air during the day. Even moderate training or relaxed walks keep us fit, increase sleep pressure in the evening and improve sleep.

Relax and get enough sleep

If cold, darkness and stormy weather determine everyday life more and more frequently, sleep should by no means be neglected. Because so that we remain healthy and efficient during the day, a strong immune system can protect us from nasty pathogens and our mind does not suffer, it is immensely important to relax sufficiently and sleep well at night. And if you wake up rested and refreshed in the morning, you can get the best out of the day and create the ideal conditions for enjoying the golden autumn and a romantic, snowy winter to the fullest.

Conclusion

  • Cold, lack of daylight and dry heating air, unfavorable sleeping clothes, poor indoor climate or changed eating habits disrupt sleep in winter
  • Ensure a pleasant sleeping environment with a moderate room climate (temperature: 16 - 18 degrees Celsius, medium humidity), choose suitable sleeping clothes and ensure an overall pleasant sleeping temperature
  • Avoid heavy meals before bedtime and stimulants, such as caffeine and large amounts of alcohol, to promote falling asleep and sleep
  • Stay active and exercise regularly, preferably in the fresh air, in order to consume as much daylight as possible at the same time and thus support sleep-regulating hormone production

Greetings and see you soon!

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