Alaska Sleep Education Center

Cold Weather Tips for Better Sleep

Posted by Hannah Edmonds on Jan 10, 2020 9:50:30 AM

Quiet avenue of trees after a snowstorm An aspect of winter more agreeable to many than what they often see on newscasts

Nobody likes to wake up freezing in the middle of the night, nor do they enjoy trying to fall asleep when they can’t feel their fingers. Although many people enjoy being a little bit cooler at night to help their bodies rest, it is very uncomfortable to sleep when it is downright cold. Shaking, shivering, and fighting for extra blankets is no fun and can make for a miserable morning. 


Fortunately, we live in advanced times, and there are many things you can do to stay warm and cozy even if the outside temperature has crept below zero. If you’re one of those people who layer up every time somebody mentions snow, you may want to take advantage of some of these cold-weather tips for better sleep. 


Keep Your Thermostat Between 60-72


Find the temperature that is most comfortable for you, but don’t go too high. While you may enjoy the initial warmth of temperatures in the mid 70’s, your sleep will actually suffer. You may end up sweating, and that’s just as bad as waking up in the cold. Our bodies actually acclimate to lower temperatures when we are sleeping, making for better rest, so we recommend sticking to the lower end of the spectrum if you can handle it. 


Invest in a smart thermostat


If the thought of setting your thermostat to 65 while you’re awake just isn’t doing it for you, consider getting a smart, programmable thermostat. This can be set to slowly drop the temperature after you fall asleep. You likely won’t notice it while you are soundly snoozing, but it can contribute to helping you sleep better through the night. 


Get Your Exercise


It can be like pulling teeth trying to get to the gym when it’s so miserable outside, but your body will thank you if you maintain a regular exercise schedule. You’ll be more tired at the end of the day, and you’ll benefit from a higher quality of sleep. Even if you feel like you should have some extra weight on you to keep you warm, you’ll actually be better off if you lose weight and remain active throughout the winter. This is especially true for those who suffer from sleep apnea, as dry air makes conditions worse, and gaining weight increases occurrences of apneic episodes. 


Dress Up Your Bed


Adding extra layers of blankets and comforters to your bed can help you keep warm on the coldest of nights. You should have a light blanket layer for when it is warmer as well as a thick comforter. However, that doesn’t have to be the end of it. You can invest in soft, warm, throw blankets to add even another layer of warmth and comfort. This is helpful if you sleep with a partner who runs a little bit warmer, as you can keep a smaller blanket on your side for extra layering. 


Use a Humidifier


The colder months generally bring drier air with them, and that can wreak havoc on your airways and your skin. Setting up a humidifier in your room can help keep your nasal passages moist and prevent your skin from drying out to an uncomfortable level. You’ll breathe better and be more comfortable overall throughout the night, and these devices are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. 


Take a warm bath or shower before bedrelaxed woman taking a bath with a towel on her head - Beauty concepts


In addition to helping to relax your body and mind, a warm shower or bath can help prepare your body for sleep as you acclimate to the drop in temperature when you get out. 


Use a Space Heater


If there are parts of your home that are particularly cold, you can supplement your standard heating with a space heater or a heated mattress pad. If your bedroom is in a corner that doesn’t get much airflow, this can be helpful in bringing it up to comfortable sleeping temperature. Just make sure that you follow the directions on the unit and remember to turn it off when you are leaving the house. 


Maintain a Healthy Diet


This goes along with exercise, but it is important to eat healthy throughout the winter. You may think that comfort foods like rich stews and heavy meats are made for winter, but they can be detrimental to your sleep if you eat them in excess. There’s nothing wrong with a rich meal here and there, but you should make sure to be done eating at least 3 hours before bed, as heavy foods can disturb your sleep overnight. 

Consider lighter soups and savory vegetables as weekday dinner options. They can still be highly satisfying and comforting without being overly filling or caloric. Don’t overdo it with salt either, as that can have a negative impact on your sleep as well. 


Stay Hydrated


This is an important tip for any time of year but is especially vital in the winter. You may not feel as thirsty as you do when it is hot outside, but the dry air can contribute to dehydration, and you may not even realize it. Remember to drink the right amount of water for your size – you’ll also be helping your sinuses and reducing congestion. 


Keep up with Vitamin D


If the sun is out, bundle up and go for a walk if you can handle the cold. Many people suffer from Vitamin D deficiency in the winter because they don’t get outside enough and rarely ever see the sun. This can lead to a myriad of problems such as depression, anxiety, poor nutrition, sleep deprivation, and fatigue. If you boost your energy levels during the day with vitamin D, you will be more relaxed at the end of the day and better able to get a good night’s sleep. 



Wear Warm but Breathable Clothing


You may want to bundle up like an Eskimo, but that isn’t really necessary if you are sleeping in a home with modern heating. Your sleep will be improved with breathable clothing, as this will prevent you from sweating or overheating at night – and yes, even the coldest of people can overheat if they are sleeping in too many layers. 


Stick to a schedule


Your body will function better if you stick to some sort of routine, so if you pick a time to go to bed and wake up every day, you’ll notice that you are more rested. This is true on the weekends, as well. It can be tempting to stay up late because you don’t have work the next day, but you’ll be a lot happier in the morning if you get the right amount of sleep and listen to your body’s internal clock. 


If you or a family member are having severe sleep issues that no home remedy has improved, call Alaska Sleep Clinic today @ 907-357-6700 to improve your sleep and your life.

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Topics: winter, bedtime resistance, colds, winter sleep vs summer sleep, getting better sleep

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