The water skis and the canoe are put away with the tennis rackets and frisbees. The beach balls are deflated, and the garden furniture is neatly stored in their usual spot to spend the winter. You look at the empty patio and yard covered in snow and suddenly feel sad that another summer is gone. Now what?
Although many people embrace winter with the anticipation of downhill skiing, tobogganing, skating and snowball wars, many cringe at the same thoughts! The shorter days and the cold inspires me to do so much less than I do in the summer. In warmer months, I am more active in my garden, taking long walks by the river, and entertaining on the patio. While during colder temperatures, I do like the bears and hibernate. But, if not careful, it could cause symptoms affecting my sleep.
When we live a more active lifestyle we are getting more oxygen into our blood supply keeping all bodily systems working optimally and allowing us to have a restful sleep. When we spend much less energy, our metabolism slows down causing us to gain more weight, fatigue sets in, and sleep in not as restful or restorative.
Science tells us that due to the shortage of daylight, we tend to produce more melatonin causing us to feel more sluggish. Additionally, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, brings on episodes of depression and disrupts the sleep cycle.
Colder air requires heating up our homes which can have a drying effect on our skin and sinuses making for an uncomfortable sleep. While in summer months we enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables regularly, they are less available in the colder months causing us to reach for high fat, high-calorie sugar-laden foods which will impact our bodies hormone levels and adversely affect our sleep.
Follow my tips on how I try to avoid the pitfalls of the winter blues while still enjoying the cold winter from the comfort of indoors.
1. Since I don’t like taking long walks in the snow, I make sure to get thirty minutes daily on my treadmill or exercise cycle. If you don’t have any equipment at home, view some cardio videos online and get moving every day. Nothing feels better than getting tired from a good workout.
2. When I am home all day, I make sure to open the blinds and pull back the curtains to get as much daylight into my home as possible! This will help ensure that my moods are balanced.
3. I make sure that I have my humidifiers up and running from the first day I increase the temperature on the thermostat. It is important that I keep my skin from getting dry and itchy and my sinuses moist. Nothing is worse than having an itch you can’t reach while under the covers trying to sleep!
4. I replace my darker decorative tones in throw pillows and blankets from fall to bright festive colours. Colour therapy is a must for me during the long winters as it keeps my surroundings cheerful and when the bright sun shines off the snow banks outside my windows, and streams indoors, well it just makes everything lively.
Keeping my moods high in the winter is the key to staying emotionally balanced when daylight is short, and the temperatures are low. This will yield better choices at meal and snack time, higher energy levels, and ultimately, a restful and restorative sleep!
Gerry, Your Sleep Expert