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While many mammals hibernate in the winter, humans are not one of them. In fact, human beings may have more trouble falling asleep or staying asleep during the winter than at any other time of the year. Why? There are many reasons, but below are five of the most commons reasons for wintertime insomnia.
As soon as cold weather sets in, furnaces are turned on and thermostats are turned up. In an effort to stay warm, we sabotage our sleep. Keeping the house too warm interferes with sleeping. However, keeping the bedroom too cold also interferes with sleeping. Where sleep is concerned, humans are a lot like Goldilocks, It can’t be too hot. It can’t be too cold. It needs to be just right. While “just right” varies from person to person, but sleep researchers have decided the optimal temperature for snoozing has a small range—sixty-eight to seventy-two degrees. Anything more or anything less reduces the amount of time spent sleeping.
Running the furnace causes the moisture in the air to dry out leaving the indoor environment in a state of low humidity. When this happens, noses dry out, making it more difficult to breathe through the nose. If this happens while a person is sleeping, the response is to open the mouth. This leads to mouth breathing which dries out mucus membranes even further, and all leads to snoring. Running a humidifier in the bedroom goes a long way to help keep the air moist and more breathable.
Winter is also cold and flu season. A common symptom of either illness is a stuffy nose. In this case, it’s too much mucus or swollen nasal passages. An easy solution to this problem is a humidifier, nasal strips or both.
Shorter and colder days tend to sap the motivation to exercise and winter becomes a season of couch potatoes. Even those who are dedicated to exercise will typically find that they spend less time in the gym, and need more than the usual incentive to get there. Without exercise, people often retain a restless energy that’s difficult to diffuse before bedtime. After all, if you’re not tired, there’s no reason to sleep. Maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout the winter months is helpful to a regular sleep routine. One supports the other.
The Abbreviated Synopsis
If you’re having difficulty sleeping in the winter, check to see if any of the following are true: the bedroom is too hot, too cold, or too dry. Do you have a cold or the flu? Perhaps, you’ve changed your exercise routine or don’t even have one. If any of these are true, a simple fix may just cure your wintertime insomnia.