Can it be more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep under cold temperatures? For some people, this may certainly be the case. Learn how cold weather may hamper your sleep quality and what you can do to maintain a healthy night’s sleep year-round.
Cold Weather and Sleep Quality Studies
A study from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil revealed that instances of sleep apnea increased during winter. This is believed to be stemmed from seasonal allergies.
People also tend to gain weight during winter, and obesity is a risk factor for sleep disturbances.
Furthermore, 34% of patients who sought sleep-related treatment during winter reported severe sleep apnea, versus 28% during spring and summer.
How Cold Weather Impacts Sleep Quality
Cold weather impacts your sleep, both directly and indirectly. Let’s learn how chilly nights may degrade the quality of your slumber.
1. Less Daylight
Sunlight regulates your sleep rhythm. During winter, there is less sunlight, meaning your body produces less serotonin (awake hormone) and more melatonin (sleep hormone). Consequently, you may feel drowsier earlier in the evening, thereby impacting your sleep cycle.
More people also report having a harder time getting out of bed in winter. This is due to the increased melatonin circulating in the body.
2. More Body Shifting
An insufficiently insulated room creates chilly drafts. This causes your body to constantly shift throughout the night as you struggle to stay comfortable.
Body shifting leads to waking up in the middle of the night and less time in deep REM sleep.
3. Cold Weather Heightens Arthritis
A study published in the Arthritis Foundation revealed that cold weather increased arthritis pain in osteoarthritis patients sensitive to weather changes.
Physical pain and discomfort make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
4 Ways to Improve Sleep in Cold Weather
Now that you understand how colder weather affects your sleep quality, here are some simple lifestyle changes to adjust to the cold weather and sleep more soundly.
1. Make Your Bed Cozy and Inviting
Incorporate additional blankets and comforters to your bed. The materials should provide ample warmth while also being breathable.
According to Sleep Junkie, the key is to layer with multiple light blankets as opposed to having a single thick blanket that could feel suffocating to your body. This way, you can make adjustments in seconds if it gets too warm.
2. Warm Your Internal Body
Before bed, increase your core body temperature by drinking a warm beverage. Good choices include warm milk or water with a dash of honey.
Refrain from caffeinated beverages, though decaffeinated coffee and tea are fine. Similarly, a warm shower may help as well.
3. Use a Weighted Blanket
A weighted blanket is intended as a form of deep-pressure therapy. However, it may also help you sleep during frigid temperatures. These blankets typically weigh between 15 to 25 pounds and are made from breathable material.
A study mentioned in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine revealed that subjects who used a weighted blanket reported less insomnia.
4. Humidify the Air
The cold, dry air combined with indoor heating creates a low-humidity environment. This can lead to uncomfortable sensations, such as itchy skin, muscle cramps, and static clothing clinging to your body. This can cause discomfort during bedtime.
It may help to invest in a portable humidifier for your room. You can even leave a bowl of water in the room; this alone releases moisture into the air.
If you have recurring sleep disturbances, then see our sleep specialist in Lafayette, LA, at SleepWell Louisiana. A professional can accurately diagnose you and provide a customized plan to help you get consistent, good-quality sleep. This is even more important if you are sensitive to seasonal changes.