Sleeping Well and Maintaining Your Mental Health in Autumn and Winter
Mental health and sleep are inextricably linked. A poor night of rest can lead to anxiety, stress and even increase your chances of developing a mental disorder. It is therefore quite frightening that the TEMPUR® Sleep Survey conducted in May this year found that a quarter of people in the UK rate their sleep as poor.
This poor sleep is even worse for many in winter and autumn. Here, TEMPUR® explores why the colder seasons affect people’s sleep and offers advice on how to help attain the night of rest you need to feel good when you wake up.
Lack of Light
The reason people often feel more lethargic and less positive in colder seasons is the lack of sunlight. Sunlight stimulates the release of many mood-enhancing chemicals in your body and signals to our brains that it is time to be awake.
In autumn and winter the days are shorter; we often wake up when it’s still dark outside and find nightfall comes earlier in the evenings. This means we are exposed to less sunlight, so we aren’t getting the natural signal to be awake, leaving us feeling tired and unhappy.
We need to be mindful of this in the autumn and winter months. Depression and sleep have a complex relationship. A poor mental state can make sleep difficult, which then causes your mental health to worsen further. This cyclical relationship between depression and sleep is very hard to break, but maximising the quality of your sleep is a great place to start.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
While the chill of autumn and winter may fill many of us with dread, it can benefit your sleep.
Our body temperature naturally falls as night time comes, which signals to our brain and body that it is time to rest. The cooler temperatures of autumn and winter reinforce this natural signal and help you to nod off more quickly and sleep more deeply.
Take advantage of this to get a peaceful sleep and prepare yourself for the lack of light in the morning. Establish a bedtime routine that includes relaxing activities, such as reading or taking a bath. Put on your favourite pyjamas and settle into bed early, giving yourself time to get a full 8-hour rest. Crucially, ensure you have a high-quality and comfortable mattress to support you in your slumber.
Sleep right so that you can minimise tiredness in the mornings and prevent damage to your mental wellbeing.
Let the Light In
The lack of sunlight in autumn and winter mornings mean we don’t get the automatic boost we are used to in summer. Thus, getting upright is vital if we want to avoid the risk of low mood and sleep deprivation.
When you wake up, make sure you get out of bed promptly and open your curtains or blinds before doing anything else. This lets the natural light in, so that you get as much as possible. The reduced amount of light on autumn and winter mornings means that it is important for you to increase the time you are exposed to it.
Establish a Morning Routine
A good morning routine can help to set your mood for the rest of the day.
Ensure you eat a well-balanced and nutritious breakfast, which is vitamin-rich. Try to include some vegetables or fruit, along with eggs, fish, or mushrooms. This will help to give you energy for the day.
Spend some time outside. A walk in the fresh air will allow you to take in invigorating fresh air and expose you to as much sunlight as possible. Even better, go for a run outside. This will get your blood flowing and encourage the release of mood-enhancing chemicals in your brain. Don’t just limit this to the morning – make sure you get outside throughout the day.
Finally, play some music. Do this while you are eating breakfast or taking a shower. Listening to music is proven to have a positive effect on your mood, as it causes serotonin – also known as the ‘feel-good hormone’ – to be released in your brain.
Establishing a simple morning routine like this can boost your mental health, making waking up and falling asleep far easier.
Have you tried some of these tips? Do you have any other tips for sleeping better in the autumn and winter? Let us know in the comments section below…