It’s that time of year again. Busy schedules, endless festivities, the food, the TV show binge watching, the cold weather that makes you want to tuck yourself in for that extra-long sleep at night. Bliss right? Pause right there, what if I were to tell you that too much sleep is actually not as good as you think? While the sudden desire for more sleep may seem appealing, research has indicated too much sleep can actually cause us to feel sluggish and negatively impact our overall health! There is also evidence that oversleeping can lead to health conditions including obesity, depression, diabetes and more.
But I always want to sleep more in the winter. Why is that?
Dr Raj Dasgupta, MD of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) identifies that there are three main factors that make us want to sleep more in winter:
- Low light – This can affect our sleep cycles due to the body’s increased release of melatonin (the hormone that tells our body when it’s time to sleep). The lower the light, the more melatonin that is released. In winter this process starts earlier in the day and throws off our circadian rhythm.
- Change in temperature – The cooler air actually provides the perfect conditions for sleep, which can easily lead to oversleep. The cooler and ambient air can support the body’s deep sleeping process.
- Change in eating habits – The traditional holiday foods we know and love are filled with fat, sugar and carbohydrates. There is always an abundance of food available to us at this time of year. How about a side of food coma with your Turkey?
So, what’s the problem with sleeping too much in winter?
The holiday season brings an endless to-do list with it; writing Christmas cards, buying gifts, preparing meals, the list goes on. Naturally, we may need to sleep more to recuperate, right? Well, it can create quite a few disruptions to our body’s schedules and that of our kids!
The Medical Daily states that oversleeping interferes with our natural circadian rhythm. This can result in physical, mental and behavioral changes including lethargy and drowsiness. Howard LeWine of Harvard Health Publications also tells us that adults who spend 9-10 hours sleeping per night have ‘poor quality of sleep’. It is now being suggested that 7-8 hours is the right amount of sleep for improved health, happiness and productivity of adults. Kids sleep needs are different. The amount of sleep per night that our kids need can vary from 10 to 13 hours, depending on their age.
The good news is that there are things we can do to keep our routines especially in winter months. There are also tools including Tick Tock Turtle that can assist our entire families with setting and maintaining sleep routines.
What are some simple tips to beat winter hibernation?
- Physical activity – Have you ever felt more energized after going for a walk or a run in the sun? Exercise is an awesome way of fighting off the sleep bug – particularly in the earlier to middle parts of the day when there is more natural light. Just a small amount of exercise after eating meals can also help us feel stimulated.
- Balance your meals – Stock up on lean meats or protein, fruits and veggies and avoid highly processed foods. The right foods not only keep you energized, they will fight off sickness that winter can bring with it. Keeping regular portion sizes to avoid overeating also helps. Drinking more water can curb hunger and making smarter choices such as choosing breast over dark meat during holiday festivities can help too.
- Keep a regular temperature through the home – Opening your blinds or curtains during the day to let in the sun and closing them at night can help to adequately insulate your home. This could definitely help keep your electricity bills down too.
- Keeping your usual routine – Simple things like eating a healthy meal, a short walk before bedtime and keeping hydrated can help not only prevent us from sleeping too much, but can also improve the quality of our sleep during the winter months. As we are already in the holiday season, it is important to stay consistent with our sleep routines and avoid making drastic changes due to the festivities.
Learn how Tick Tock Turtle can help maintain a healthy routine for your family’s sleep through our homepage.