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Why you can't sleep now the weather is colder (and how to fix it)

A cold snap shouldn’t break your sleep cycle.

During the cooler months it can be increasingly difficult to fall asleep quickly and comfortably.

Not to mention the cost of living crisis has us all braving the cold so we don’t have to turn our heating on.

Lying awake at night because you’re uncomfortable or chilly is super frustrating so we sought an expert’s advice on how to sleep soundly.

So why aren’t you drifting off into a peaceful slumber? And how can you resolve the issue?

Dry air

Martin Seely, sleep expert and CEO of MatressNextDay tells ‘Autumn and winter weather can often be very dry and harsh.

‘As lovely as it is to get out for a nice winter walk, the cold air can often leave your skin and eyes dry and can also affect your sinuses, leaving your airways feeling dry and irritated.

‘This then leads to a disrupted night’s sleep due to sore or dry sinuses and chapped skin.’

How to fix it: ‘When the weather leaves you feeling dry, you must add water. The best way to hydrate your body inside and out is to drink plenty of water each so that your skin and body isn’t losing anymore vital moisture,’ says Martin.

‘A lack of hydration can essentially affect your sinuses and dry your throat out, and this can cause congestion and lead to a disrupted night sleep.

‘For dry skin, ensure you are using a thicker moisturiser. You can try a nasal cleanse with a gentle saline solution for the sinuses, and eye drops can be used for the eyes to help prevent them from feeling dry at night, just add a few drops each evening to soothe and protect them through the night.’

Your body needs to be warmer

Martin says that if the temperature in your room is too cold, it could affect the necessary drop in your body’s internal temperature and lead to disrupted sleep.

He added: ‘When we’re cold we often want to snuggle down into the duvet, but this can disrupt our natural breathing due to lack of oxygen under the covers, making it even harder to sleep.’

How to fix it: ‘Taking a hot bath or a long hot shower before bed is a good way to increase body temperature, and even if your room is chilly, through a hot bath or shower your body should stay warm long enough for you to fall asleep,’ Martin said.

‘Invest in comfy thermal pyjamas that you can wear during bed, bed socks are also advised.

‘You can also look at changing your bedding for winter time, so opting for a thicker duvet and fleece lined throws. Keep windows and doors closed where possible to keep heat in.’

SAD affects slumber

‘Seasonal affective disorder, which occurs during the colder, darker months not only affects your mood during the day, but it can also lead to trouble sleeping,’ says Martin.

‘People with SAD often feel more sleepy during the day and sleep longer than usual at night, but in some instances, you may notice that you are waking up more frequently during the night due to increased irritability and decreased mood, which means a bad night’s sleep.’

How to fix it: ‘SAD is a common disorder and it cannot be fixed overnight, but there are a few things you can do to help get a better night’s sleep, one of the main ones being purchasing a SAD lamp.

‘SAD lamps work by emitting light, similar to sunlight, which can help trigger the brain to release serotonin which helps to boost your mood.

‘Light therapy can be incredibly effective and many studies have shown that light therapy when daylight hours are reduced can help to adjust your circadian rhythm, the body’s process for regulating your sleep-wake cycle.’

Cold and flu season

Our immune systems get run down in colder weather and we pick up colds and flus which cause sinus congestions, sneezing and illness – all of which make it harder to sleep.

How to fix it: Martin says: ‘Keeping your immune system in tip top condition is the best way to help ward off any unwanted colds and illnesses, this can be done through maintaining a healthy balanced diet and making sure you’re eating enough when the weather is chilly.

‘Be sure to drink plenty of water each day and keep yourself safe by washing your hands and using hand sanitiser on public transport. Also be sure to keep warm during the day by wearing appropriate clothing.’

Cold equals stiff

When you’re cold your body and muscles cannot relax, which is what they need to do in order to fall asleep.

How to fix it: ‘You should use a hot water bottle in the evening to help warm your bed before you get in,’ says Martin.

‘I would also advise keeping your body temperature up with some evening exercise as this will not only keep your body warm but will help you to feel sleepy.

‘Bedtime herbal teas may also help as the warm liquid will warm up your body before sleep.’

Quick tips for getting out of bed when it’s cold:

There is nothing worse than leaving the comfort of your toasty bed in the morning, so we’ve got some tips to make it that little bit easier.

  • Wear something warmer to bed
  • Consume something warm when you wake up or have a hot shower immediately
  • Make sure your alarm is soothing and calm
  • Give yourself 10 seconds to get out of bed once your alarm sounds
  • If you’re turning your heating on, set it to come on early in the morning

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