As the mornings and evenings get darker, our sleep-supporting hormones get disrupted – Moody explores how to improve your slumber during the winter months.
When the clocks go back we all cheer for our “extra” hour in bed. But come Monday morning, when the alarm goes off at your usual time, it feels harder than before.
“Sunlight is our primary ‘zeitgeber’, which acts as a cue in the regulation of the body's circadian rhythms,” Dr Neil Stanley, sleep expert and author of How To Sleep says. “Just a few minutes of daylight are enough to signal to our body and brains that it is day and that we should be awake. Similarly, darkness tells the brain that it is time for sleep.”
"The dark could make mornings more difficult to get out of bed, because the brain still believes it is night,” Dr Stanley says
The reason? Melatonin, a hormone produced in the brain's pineal gland and that helps us sleep, is released in response to darkness. “In the summer this works in our advantage as it is easy to get up on a bright summer’s morning and we can enjoy the evening sunshine. In winter however, it is a different story. The dark could make mornings more difficult to get out of bed, because the brain still believes it is night,” Dr Stanley says.
Not only that but the evenings are drawing in too. “The early onset of darkness in the afternoon means that the we actually do want to go to sleep earlier,” Dr Stanley explains. “The release of melatonin, the brain’s signal that sets off the cascade of events that leads to sleep, is actually earlier in winter than in summer.
“The cumulative effect of this is that we feel we need more sleep in the winter, and so perhaps it is the ideal time to get into some good sleep habits,” he suggests.
So try these Moody-approved tips to get your slumber in the winter months:
Clean Sleeping Tips
- No caffeine after midday and avoid cola, alcohol, chocolate in the evenings
- Switch off all electronic devices 1 hour before going to bed
- Go to sleep at the same time each night – ideally before 11pm
- Aim for 7-9 hours sleep each night
- Don’t exercise hard in the evenings – a restorative yoga class is a good alternative to spin or HIIT
- Avoid wine, recreational drugs or other stimulant ‘relaxants’ to wind down
- Don’t take any vitamin and mineral supplements in the evening unless specified.
- Put a plant in your bedroom or air purifier to clean the air and reduce stuffiness
- Check that any medication you may be taking does not have sleep disturbance side effects and speak with you G.P about possible alternatives with less side effects
- Burn some relaxing essential oils in your bedroom – lavender, rose or camomile
- Infuse some rose petals and make yourself a Dream Milk or calmative rose tea
- Read in bed for 30 minutes or listen to a sleep focused guided meditation (electronic device allowed only for this!)
- Slip on your MOODY sleep mask to help you focus on sleep
For insomnia try melatonin support Viridian Cherry Night Powder
For serotonin support try Nutri 5 - HTP
For blood sugar stablising + reducing night time snacking try Wild Nutrition Food Grown GTF Chromium & Antioxidants
For wakefulness or restlessness during the night try melatonin supporting Viridian-Organic Valerian Root