If you’ve read Julia’s latest book, Walk Yourself Happy, you’ll already know the importance of getting enough sleep for your mind, body and soul. It’s not a new concept – the Ancient Greeks were great believers in the restorative power of sleep. The Greek God of sleep, Hypnos, was considered the remover of pain, sorrow and suffering.
The winter months bring with them less daylight and gloomy weather that can make it tempting to snuggle up under the duvet on the sofa, especially on the weekends. More often than not, this leads to a quick afternoon nap, which can then make it tricky to sleep throughout the night when it comes to time to go to bed.
Additionally, the cooler weather means that all too often we struggle to stay at the right temperature when we do get into bed, making it hard to get any undisturbed rest. With lack of sleep leaving most of us irritable and groggy, how can you make sure you’re getting forty winks throughout the winter season?
Don’t eat too late at night
Darker evenings tend to mean a reduced social calendar for many of us, as we switch up drinks in the pub garden for a cosy night in front of the TV or with a good book. During this time, it can be tempting to eat your way through a box of chocolates, nibble on some buttery crumpets or even opt for more takeaways than usual. Warm, delicious food can be comforting – even light summer dinner dishes like omelettes and salads tend to get swapped for rich pasta dishes and gravy-filled pies.
Whilst this isn’t always problematic, eating these foods late at night can make it harder for you to get quality sleep. Experts suggest that eating lots late at night can be difficult for your body, as it is still trying to digest the food. Make sure that you wrap up any late-night snacks at least an hour before getting into bed.
Keep the temperature stable
Winter means that the heating tends to be on in the evenings when we’re at home, and we layer up the bed with big blankets and hot water bottles. Whilst staying warm may help you drift off to sleep, it can mean that you wake up in the middle of the night as you get too hot. When creating your bedroom setup, aim for it to be cool or tepid (not cold). As you sleep, your core body temperature will drop, but your skin temperature will rise, meaning that you’ll feel warmer.
You can control your temperature with your bedding as well, so make sure your sheets are helping you drift off. Flannel or brushed cotton can help create a cosy atmosphere whilst remaining breathable. So if you’re finding that you wake up in the night to throw the layers off, swap out your lightweight duvet cover for a heavier one to avoid having to use lots of blankets.
Remember to get outside during daylight hours
Especially if you work full-time, it can be hard to get outside during the shorter daylight hours. But this natural light is essential for helping our circadian rhythm, as well as boosting mental health, leaving you calm and sleepy when you get into bed.
On working days, why not try blocking out your calendar over lunch, so you can guarantee yourself the chance to get out on a short walk each day? Even 15 minutes outside makes a difference, so it’s well worth making this a priority. On weekends, strap on your hiking boots and get out on a good winter walk, exploring the countryside despite the chillier weather.
Keep a good sleep routine
Dark mornings can make it tempting to hit snooze on your alarm and stay under the warmth of your duvet, especially on the weekends. But keeping a regular routine is crucial for healthy sleep habits. Your body doesn’t know if it’s a work day or a weekend – going to bed late on a Saturday, sleeping in for hours on a Sunday and then getting up at 6am on other days can be disruptive to your natural rhythm. Whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, make sure that you keep some consistency to get high quality sleep.
Take care of yourself
It’s easy to think that sleep doesn’t need to be a high priority, but it’s the baseline of how you feel when you’re awake. Suffering from sleep deprivation can make it hard to enjoy the beauty of the winter days, so make sure you take care and set yourself up for success with our top tips.