July 22, 2017
There’s not much better to do when it is cold outside rather than sleep. It is hard to get out of bed, thus “bed-weather.” But while it is generally much comfy and cozy to sleep during the cold months (unless of course we’re talking chilling, biting cold), there are things that happen in our body during this time that affect our sleep habits and overall sleep health.
Sleeping in cold months has its pros and cons. Science tells us that body temperature naturally peaks and declines during the course of the day. It is lowest at night, which explains why we can sleep faster and better when the room temperature is cold. But when it gets too cold, sleep can also be interrupted.
As much as there are benefits for sleeping during cold, rainy weather, there are also dangers and you need to find ways to cope with weather discomfort. Learn about the changes in sleep habits during rainy months and what happens in the body during this time.
In general, cooler air supports the body’s natural deep sleep process. Depending on clothing or bedding and preference, the ideal temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit or between 16 and 21 degrees Celsius. As your body temperature dips, it naturally adapts better to a cool sleeping environment. Doing so serves your circadian rhythm or internal clock better.
But if there are advantages, there are also challenges of sleeping in the cold. During cold months, days are naturally shorter and we see less sunlight. When we see less sunlight, we don’t get enough Vitamin D, which is important in serotonin production. Serotonin has many important functions such as sleep-wake cycles.
According to research, lack of Vitamin D increases feelings of depression and fatigue. It is also associated with daytime drowsiness. Winter and cold weather is also known to trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when symptoms of depression become clearer. Disturbances in sleep are among the symptoms of SAD. Patients complain about winter hypersomnia (excessive sleep) and insomnia (lack of sleep).
The sound of rain falling may lull some people to sleep. It makes people feel calm and still. But when rainfall gets from gentle to hard during winter or cold months, there will be consequences on your sleep patterns.
Thunderstorms and bad weather can create anxiety. Deafening claps of thunder and flashes of lightning can make some people tense, making it hard for the body and brain to relax. Thunder can also wake you up in the middle of the night.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition characterized by disrupted breathing during sleep, become severe with lower atmospheric pressure associated with weather disturbances.
One of the primary reasons on why it is difficult to sleep when it’s cold is because of joint, muscular or nerve pains associated with cold weather. It is hard to sleep when you are feeling sore.
A study from Tufts University found that arthritis pain is made worse by colder temperatures. Invest in mattresses with orthopedic features. Uratex has a line of Orthocare mattresses that offer exceptional back support, provide pressure relief, promotes natural body alignment, and adjusts to body shape and movement.
Pain is also known to aggravate sleeping conditions because some common pain medications contain caffeine and other stimulants that affect the quality of sleep.
During cold months, we see a spike in common illnesses such as colds and flu. This is because there are more threats to weaken the immune system. Allergens brought about by the cold weather can cause stuffy nose, sinus irritation, constant sneezing, and itchy eyes that can keep you up at night. If you take anti-histamine, you’ll feel a little drowsy and sleepy, but they may actually impair the overall quality of your sleep.
One of the side effects of weather-related diseases is that sleep may be uncomfortable. Cold medicines such as cough syrups with alcohol content can also make you feel tired and restless and can impair sleep cycles.
One of the reasons for change in sleep habits during the cold months is because the season revolves around parties and holidays. This means you consume sugary, fatty, and high-calorie foods more than usual. These types of food have an impact on the body’s hormone levels.
The hormone leptin, which is responsible for appetite and metabolism, is altered by eating too much unhealthy food. When leptin hormone levels are altered, your sleep cycle gets disrupted. Apart from this, you also end up craving for unhealthy food, which in turn, will hurt your sleep habits more.
An impact of cold weather to sleep health is the reduction of rapid eye movement (REM). REM sleep are the intervals during the night that account for 25% of total sleep time in adults. They usually occur in cycles of about 90 to 120 minutes. When the REM stage of sleep is compromised, it is harder for the brain to relax and concentration levels the following day may also be affected.
Sleep is vital to our health and well-being. While the cold months may make you want to stay in bed more, it can also make sleep a challenge. Fight its effects on sleep health by keeping your immune system strong, getting enough light, getting mattress support, and keeping yourself warm as much as necessary.