Keys to better sleep through long winter nights

The markedly longer nights and much shorter days of winter can create a number of challenges for good sleeping.  Many of us see very little direct sunlight this time of year.  Our biological clocks can struggle to adapt to the extremes of the natural circadian rhythm.  There are, however, a number of constructive actions you can take to help ensure robust and consistently refreshing sleep during winter.

One of the most important things to do this time of year is to ensure you are exposed to plenty of light first thing in the morning.  Sunlight, because of its broad natural spectrum, is best.  If that’s not possible, then bright artificial light is the next best thing, and as soon as you wake up.  Light is the surprisingly simple cue that helps resynchronize your biological clock for a new day.  The affect of light on your mind and body’s inherent sleep system is subtle, but profound.

Exercise, especially outdoor exercise, may be easy to overlook in winter, and especially during inclement weather.  But tiring yourself out physically during the day is one of the best ways to sleep soundly at night.  Exercising outside in the sun gives you the added benefit of exposure to natural light.

A consistent sleep schedule is another important contributor to good sleep through long winter nights.  Depending on your age, it may be a struggle to get up and out of bed in the morning.  Or maybe after dark it’s tough to make it to a reasonable bedtime without falling asleep on the couch.  But age really makes no difference if you intend to prioritize good sleep.  The key is to be as consistent as possible with both bedtime and wake up time.  Your natural sleep system thrives on this sort of regularity.

It may also be tempting to feast on all sorts of holiday treats this time of year, but beware of caffeine in hidden places — like chocolate.  Caffeine affects people in different ways, but it may keep you up if consumed too close to bedtime.

Positive and supportive social interaction and social stimulation are also important components for good sleep.  This is true anytime of year.  But the holiday season gives us unique opportunities to connect with people — friends, family, co-workers — in social situations.  Make the most of these opportunities in a positive way to help yourself sleep better.

Stress management and controlling anxiety are also keys to good sleep.  One of the very best ways to deal proactively with these mental processes is through cognitive behavioral therapy applied specifically to insomnia.  CBT-I has been repeatedly proven to be very effective for most people.  If you are having trouble sleeping, CBT-I gives you an effective alternative to drugs that unnaturally force sleep.

If you looking for a permanent, drug-free solution for better sleep, we invite you to check out the Sleep Training System.  This downloadable, user-friendly, CBT-based program will help you every step of the way with common sense ideas and an easy-to-implement sleep improvement program.  For more information on how the STS can  help you, or to ask a sleep-related question, feel free to contact us.

Explore posts in the same categories: Health, Insomnia, sleep

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One Comment on “Keys to better sleep through long winter nights”

  1. […] we have gotten used to during summer are gone.  For some, these seasonal changes may disrupt the circadian rhythm that largely controls […]

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