Have you been wondering why your routine seems to be out of sync lately? You don’t seem to be as spritely, jumping out of bed to get that gym session in before work, you’ve been craving Nonna's spaghetti bolognese more than usual and gained a few extra ‘winter kilos’?
Well, its official, winter is finally upon us which brings with it it's own challenges for healthy sleep and living.
As the days get shorter and nights longer (and colder) our bodies’ natural bio clock the circadian rhythm, which controls our sleep/wake cycle, is experiencing changes in response to the season.
As darkness sets in a little earlier, the sleep hormone, melatonin, produced by your body in preparation for sleep is also kicking in earlier and it’s affecting your circadian rhythm. Combine this with our modern world, our body is fighting with artificial light, blue light from our electronic devices, daylight savings, work schedules etc it’s no wonder our body clock can be a little put out.
Try not to give into it and go to bed earlier and stay in bed longer but stick to your normal sleep routine and avoid over sleeping to keep your circadian rhythm on track.
See the light
The wet gloomy days and being forced indoors can have an effect on our moods and for some this can be more serious, turning into winter depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). If you experience depression or SAD have a discussion with your doctor.
The production of our happy hormone, serotonin increases with sunlight so naturally it may be at its lowest during winter. If you can soak up the sun’s rays during the morning, even if its cold outside, you’ll help build up serotonin levels in the body but exposure to any bright light will help your body clock.
Food for thought
Eating foods high in carbohydrates are another way the body can produce serotonin, that’s why we feel happy and calm after chowing down on Nonna’s spaghetti, but don’t get addicted, this is how we put on those extra kilo’s during winter. Avoid eating, especially carb laden meals later in the evening, which sends the wrong messages to the brain and can impact your sleep patterns.
Work it out
It can be a struggle in the midst of winter but exercise is always great for healthy sleep and living, even a short workout in the morning can set your circadian rhythm in motion for the day. Try to stick to your routine but if you feel yourself wanting to snuggle into bed after dinner then a light workout or walk after eating might be all that’s needed to keep your bio clock on track.
Keep your cool
Finally, because its cold outside don’t over do the heat inside. The optimal temperature for sleep is around 18-20 degrees and as we enter into sleep our body begins to cool down by releasing heat through our hands and feet. Cold feet are a common cause of waking in winter so wear some bed socks if that helps but ensure your clothing and bedding is natural to assist with thermoregulation during sleep.
Check out our range of Protect-A-Bed® products designed to improve airflow and wick away moisture to avoid overheating and disrupting your sleep cycle.
Sleep Well, Live Well
Pets are part of our family and many of them sleep with us in our beds. Snuggling up to us, providing affection, comfort and security, but is it healthy?
Although an adult cat sleeps for about for 12-16 a day and an adult dog 12-14 hours they can be up and down in the night. Scratching, washing, having a midnight snack, or wanting to go outside. All things that may disrupt your sleep leaving you feeling tired the next day.
And while the risks are low, cats and dogs carry bacteria that can be passed to us when in close contact. They also shed dirt, pollen from running around outside, and pet dander a common cause or trigger of asthma and allergies.
So for a healthier night’s sleep, whilst enjoying the company of your pets here are some tips you may wish to follow:
If you have a puppy, consider how big it is going to get. Sleeping with it while it is young might be comfortable but what happens when it gets older and bigger. Training a dog, which is going to outgrow the ability for you to comfortably share a bed, to sleep somewhere else, is much easier when they are a puppy and before habits are formed.
And if you suffer from allergies or asthma which can be triggered by pet dander, consider giving your pet lots of affection before bedtime and keeping your sleep areas separate.
Always avoid letting pets sleep with babies and young children.
School holiday’s are here again and along with keeping your little one’s occupied with activities and play dates it can be tempting to let them stay up that little bit later.
And as tempting as it is, remember that whether you are staying at home or going away it is important that you try to maintain a regular sleep pattern for your children. Without it they will become tired and grumpy, making your days more difficult and when the holiday’s are over you will have to battle to get them back into their bedtime routine.
As recommended by the Sleep Health Organisation “Bed time should not vary by more than an hour between school and non-school nights” and “the same goes for the time your child wakes up”
To help with this in the holiday’s ensure that you give your children time to relax before bed. Put away toys and turn of screens. Anything stimulating. Try reading a favourite book or listening to some calming music.
If you are travelling and away from home, a different environment can make it difficult for them to settle. Take with you a toy, pillow or blanket that your child associates with sleep. It will make them more comfortable and assist in them getting to sleep.
When travelling also ensure that where you are staying has Protect-A-Bed® Mattress and Pillow Protectors. An unprotected mattress or pillow is home to millions of dust mites, mould and bacteria which may cause allergens, asthma and eczema.
30% of us are allergic to dust mites so chances are if you or your family are sleeping on an unprotected mattress while away asthma and allergies are more likely to occur. None of us want to get sick, or have sick children, when away on holidays!
And for those of you who have children still bedwetting, consider taking an extra mattress protector or linen protector of your own with you. Pop it on the bed and if an accident occurs you can easily remove it in the night, getting back to sleep quickly with the knowledge that the mattress your child is sleeping won’t become wet or stained.
With the holiday’s coming to a close, if you have not been able to maintain the consistent bedtime at the start of the holidays, get back to a normal routine before school starts. If bedtime has become later than usual, slowly push it back by about 15 minutes or so a night until it is where it should be.
A fun holiday activity that encourages children to keep to their bedtime is making a Sleep Clock. Head to the Sleep Health Foundations website and download a easy to use template created by Professor Kurt Lushington from the University of South Australia.
Everyone deserves the simple pleasure of a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is vital to our health and well-being, affecting how we feel, and how productive we are.
If you are not getting the 7-9 hours of quality sleep a day that most adults need, you may be among other things, lacking in energy, getting frustrated easily, feeling sleepy during the day and having trouble concentrating.
Just remember that what works for one person may not work for another and it is not always possible to stick to a set routine. By adopting these habits however your sleep should improve. With the right amount of quality sleep you will feel better and be more productive. If you are not finding anything that works you should consult your GP.