Winter is coming and with it, for some families, comes an added difficulty to sleep. For some, going into hibernation mode can be appealing, but for others, getting a full night’s sleep is tricky.
For everyone, there’s a real balancing act to sleep. Sleep for too little and you’ll be tired, sleep too much… and you’ll also be tired and sluggish throughout the day. The optimal amount of sleep you should be getting as an adult is around eight hours, although if you’re someone who experiences seasonal depression (SAD) then the amount of sleep you need could rise by 1.75 to 2.5 hours a night. For children who, on average, already require up to 10-11 hours of sleep a night, winter can prove a difficult time achieving those set amounts of sleep.
Alongside that, winter tiredness is very much real and getting enough sleep is key to ensuring you and your family don’t succumb to it. There are a few quick and easy steps to follow to give yourself the best chance of a great night’s sleep; for instance, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day (even on weekends), making sure bedrooms aren’t messy, are a nice cool temperature (but not cold) and free of distracting technologies will have you all on the right track in no time at all.
Other things you and your family can do to maintain healthy sleep cycles in the winter is exercise. Exercising in the late afternoon is great for both reducing early-evening fatigue and improving your sleep. For children, this might be taken care of when they’re at school, but on the weekends, be sure to give them plenty of chances to exercise. Perhaps go on a family walk, spend an hour at the local swimming pool or head down to the park should the weather permit. The recommended goal for weekly exercise is 150 minutes. Something else to consider is to try and exercise outside in the natural daylight. With daylight hours reducing in the winter, this can have a big effect on us with natural light in the daytime also helping us sleep at night, plus there’s nothing worse than going to work in the dark and leaving in the dark having seen no daylight at all.
Additionally, one specifically for the parents here… try to stay stress-free. We know the winter holidays can be a stressful and busy time, but take time out for yourself to relax. Stress is a big cause of fatigue.
Your diet can additionally take a hit in the winter, but you’ll find that maintaining a healthy, balanced diet will keep you and your family’s sleep nice and healthy. Look out for winter vegetables such as parsnips, swedes and turnips!
Sleeping in cold weather can prove tricky temperature wise too. While it’s tempting to wrap up in multiple blankets, the body sleeps better when it’s not too hot. So, be sure to keep warm, but if you or anyone in your family is having difficulty sleeping, try turning the temperature down a bit and see if that helps. The cold air isn’t just bad temperature-wise either, it also means that the air is super dry. Dry air, in turn, can cause dry, itchy skin, not to mention irritate your nose and throat. If this is the case, consider running a humidifier in your bedroom.
Finally, winter often brings along colds and cases of flu with it. Unfortunately, getting a good night’s sleep with a cough or blocked nose can be problematic, so be sure to take preventative measures to try your best to keep you and your family in great condition.