Why Do We Sleep More In Winter?
Have you found yourself sleeping for a longer period of time in the winter? Do you feel like you need to take more naps? This is not uncommon. Melatonin is the hormone produced by the body to start the beginning of the sleep process at night. This process starts earlier in the winter, and later in the summer dependent on the hours of sunlight. Our circadian rhythms that allow us to sleep well, are disrupted by the change in seasons. Essentially, people will have their sleep patterns disrupted in the colder months. They will wake up more often, and not get as good of a quality night’s sleep.
What About The Food We Eat?
In the winter, we tend to be upset by the cold. We eat comfort foods to either warm ourselves up, or to make us mentally feel that we are happier. These foods are usually not full in good nutrients. Common comfort foods usually include an enormous amount of sugar and fat. Together, this makes people sleepier, and tougher on the stomach to digest. The amount of calories also plays a role. People tend to eat too much and immediately feel tired after overeating. The refined carbohydrates and levels of sugar make the body slower to process digestion. This is usually noticed after Thanksgiving dinner.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is characterized by a change in mood dependent on the season. Humans respond well to light. The reduction in light during the winter months has been linked to seasonal depression. Depression is characterized by a loss in activities you were once interested in, feeling hopeless, sleeping too much or too little, and frequent thoughts of suicide and death. Talking to your doctor is always the best option if you think you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder.
SAD can be treated as depression. There are many ways to reduce the symptoms. Some people combat their depression by trying out positive activities such as; exercising, making more time for friends and family, eating well, and trying to get quality sleep. Some people have had success with a happy light. A happy light is a light that you can plug in for a few hours and your body will mistake it for natural sunlight. Sunlight has proven to be active in fighting depression.
Tips on How to Be More Awake
There are many ways to try to naturally enhance your body’s awareness. These tips include:
- Getting more sunlight: Go outside during lunch for a walk.
- Exercising: Going to the gym at night will cause your body to work out. Your body temperature will increase a little bit, and then when you are sleeping it will drop. The return to homeostasis provides a deeper sleep.
- Eat Well: Eating foods that slowly digest will give you more energy during the day and delay hunger cravings.
- Tea: While it is not coffee, tea has caffeine that will keep you awake, but will avoid as large a crash later in the day.