How to Sleep Better During the Winter

Getting a good night’s sleep during the winter season may seem like it should be no problem. After all, winter is the season of longer nights, extra blankets, and more time spent at home. December brings the holidays, that time of year when you get to eat delicious foods, spend time with family and friends, watch movies, and decorate the tree.

While all this is seemingly positive, it can actually wreck sleep quality. Winter weather, reduced hours of sunlight, and holiday diets can disrupt our sleep schedule and our ability to get enough sleep.

In order to set yourself up for the best sleep this winter be sure to add these tips into your daily habits:

  • Stay active: While it can be hard to find the motivation for outdoor workouts when it's cold, be sure to make a workout happen a few times a week -- even an at-home routine is great. Exercise supports better sleep habits. Just ensure you’re not working out too close to your bedtime. Aim to get your workout done at least 4-5 hours before you hit the hay if not earlier in your day.
  • Watch your alcohol intake: With all the eggnog and hot-buttered rum in circulation, it's easy to want more than a drink or two. Alcohol does make you drowsy and can help you fall asleep faster, but it also disturbs your sleep and diminishes its quality. Alcohol also decreases the amount of REM sleep you get.
  • Resist the urge to nap: The shorter days and cooler temperatures leave us wanting to cozy up on the couch and have a little nap. Make sure you’re not napping daily for more than 45 minutes as it can be extremely disruptive to your sleep schedule. Try a power nap of 15-20 minutes to give you a boost.
  • Keep your regular sleep schedule: It's easy to feel like it's worth it to stay up late during the holidays to catch up with friends and family who may have extra time, but those late nights can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. It’s fine to stay up a little late during the holidays, but try to limit it to no more than an hour off of your regular schedule.
  • Eat a light dinner and don’t go overboard with snacking at night: When it’s cold outside we often want to chow down on a hearty meal every night. Stuffing yourself before hitting the sheets for the night isn’t great for a good night’s sleep. Our bodies can have a hard time digesting a large amount of food and can keep our body from transitioning into sleep mode. Eating and digestion send messages to your body’s bio clock, altering circadian rhythms.
  • Practice cold, Covid and flu prevention: Nothing is worse when trying to get a good night’s sleep like a stuffy/runny nose or frequent cough—and during the winter, these can be hard to avoid. Do your best to stay healthy, by practicing cold and flu prevention. Get your flu shot, wash your hands frequently, don’t share items, and avoid others who are feeling ill—and if you do get sick, stay home and skip the family gatherings.
  • Watch the moisture: Winter is known to bring dry skin and an even dryer nose, making you uncomfortable. Be sure to moisturize your skin a little extra during the winter months and invest in a humidifier if needed.
  • Don’t overheat: Colder temperatures are best for sleeping, as the body’s internal temperature drops as it prepares for bed. It’s tempting to crank up the thermostat and grab the extra blankets but be mindful to avoid tossing and turning all night due to being too hot and even worse, sweaty!

Add these simple tips this winter season and you’ll be sure to enjoy the time with family and friends while being well-rested each night.

Read more: Sleep Better During the Holidays.