Our Guide to Sleeping Comfortably In Every Season
The debate about seasons: some love them, some hate them. Some like the experience of four distinct seasons throughout the year, while others prefer a more even yearly climate.
For those that enjoy seasonal variety, the changing of the seasons can be an exciting time of growth and renewal. For others, changes in the temperature and number of daylight hours can feel disruptive and difficult to adapt to. Some fall somewhere in the middle.
Whatever your stance is about seasons, we can all agree that seasonal changes often affect our daily lives. We find ourselves having to make slight changes to everything from our wardrobe to our grocery list. And for many, we also need to adjust how we sleep.
If you’re looking for restful sleep year-round, this guide is for you.
The four seasons and sleep
Those living in northern states know the joy and sorrow of all four seasons. In southern states, while seasonal changes may be fewer and far less intense, there is still a notable warmer season and colder season.
Let’s take a look at the different seasons and how they can affect healthy sleep.
Winter / cold season
During the winter months, the days get shorter and temperatures drop. Depending on where you live, you may experience intense snowfall and/or icy conditions on a semi-regular basis.
Winter can negatively impact our ability to sleep in several ways.
The cold weather outside may also bring about changes to the temperature inside. This includes our sleeping environment. Having a sleeping environment that is too cold usually impedes our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Another way winter impacts our sleep has to do with how active we are during the day. With shorter days and unpredictable weather, the time we spend outside may decrease significantly. Without exposure to consistent natural light, our bodies natural circadian rhythms may be disrupted. Lack of exercise during the day can also adversely affect our ability to get a good night's rest.
Finally, those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) experience the worst of their symptoms during the winter months. This includes adverse side effects to healthy sleep, such as insomnia or oversleeping.
Sleep apnea in the winter
OSA, or Obstructive Sleep Apnea, is a sleeping disorder where the airways relax, causing a patient to stop breathing during sleep. Those with sleep apnea may not be able to enter deep, REM sleep, causing insomnia, hypersomnia, or daytime tiredness.
Cold weather during the winter months can aggravate sleep apnea, making symptoms worse.
In states that experience four distinct seasons, springtime is all about thawing and regrowth. While it can be an uplifting time, especially for those that experience SAD, those with allergies may suffer significantly during the spring months.
Symptoms of allergies, such as sneezing, congestion, and irritated eyes, often make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. No one likes a runny nose at bedtime!
Summer / warm season
Summer is usually associated with longer, lazier, and more relaxed days. Summer is also the time when many people experience heat discomfort.
Longer days mean more hours of sunlight. Much like in the winter months, when less light can negatively affect our sleep cycles, more light can also wreak havoc on our natural rhythms.
Excessive heat during summertime, which may continue into the late hours, can cause discomfort as we try to fall asleep. Hot sleepers may experience overheating throughout the night, which leads to sweating, tossing and turning dry mouth, and other annoying effects.
Those that exercise regularly may find themselves shifting activities to later in the day to beat the heat. This can affect sleep quality -- aerobic exercise within two hours of bedtime makes it more difficult for us to relax and properly wind down before sleeping.
During autumn, the days begin to shorten. As we prepare for winter, we may experience a shift in our diet and routine.
Those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder usually begin to experience symptoms during the fall, including insomnia and hypersomnia.
Changes to our eating schedule can also adversely affect our ability to get healthy sleep. Overeating can cause discomfort as we try to relax into bed, as well as bringing on disruptive consequences such as acid reflux or indigestion.
How to get a good night's rest, year-round
Do you notice a change in how well you sleep, depending on the season? It may come down to adjusting your habits to achieve year-round sleep hygiene. We’re here to help!
Consistency is key
No matter the season, try to stay consistent in your sleep habits.
Stick to a sleep schedule
A key to better sleep hygiene is maintaining a sleep schedule. Try going to bed around the same time each evening and set a fixed wake-up time for the morning. This habit helps support our natural circadian rhythm.
As the amount of daylight begins to change (or as the days get hotter), we may need to make small adjustments to the time we fall asleep at night or wake up in the morning. If this is the case, make incremental changes each day.
Fall and spring are great buffers to make gradual changes to our typical sleeping and waking times.
Sustain a healthy diet
Make sure you’re eating a nutritious evening meal at the appropriate time. Eating too much or too little, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime, can make it difficult to fall asleep.
In the winter months, many of us up our calorie intake to stay warm and keep up our energy levels. Make sure that any hearty evening meals are finished at least 2-3 hours before winding down for bed.
Create a bedtime routine
Having a set daily routine for bedtime is a tried-and-true method for a good night’s sleep. The specifics of a routine usually depend on the preferences of each individual -- the important part is the process and how it prepares our bodies for healthy sleep.
Your routine may also vary slightly depending on the time of year.
Here are a few ideas to prepare yourself for rejuvenating sleep:
Drink a hot tea or warm glass of milk
Take a hot shower to increase your body temperature
Curl up with a good book
Incorporate a warming yoga practice
Place a glass of ice water next to your bed
Take a cool shower to lower your body temperature
Listen to calming ocean sounds
Do some light stretching
Take medication for allergies
Create a comfortable sleeping environment
The more comfortable we are in bed, the easier the path to a better night's sleep.
The ideal bedroom temperature for sleeping is between 60º and 67º F.
When the weather is extreme, the instinct is often to go to extreme measures to compensate. In the winter, for example, it may be tempting to crank up the heat to stay warm. Avoid this tactic, as it may cause your bedroom to become too hot, disrupting sleep.
In the summer, including a fan in your sleeping space can help with air circulation. If you live in a particularly humid area, consider using a dehumidifier.
Aromatherapy has proven results in increasing our ability to get quality sleep.
There are a variety of methods for incorporating aromatherapy into your bedtime routine. Essential oils can be released via a diffuser, mixed with massage oil, applied to bathwater, or added to a bowl of boiling water to release steam.
Warmth-inducing essential oils, such as peppermint, clove, cedarwood, and pine are great options for the winter months. For summertime, try orange, lemon, lavender, or eucalyptus. Valerian, ylang ylang, and bergamot are a few great year-round options, specifically to help with sleep.
Making the bed
A key to a great sleep environment is a comfortable bed.
The right mattress
Make sure you have a mattress that suits your sleeping style, whether it’s soft, hard, or somewhere in between.
Invest in durable and comfortable sheets. While some fabrics are suitable for year-round use, such as cotton and microfiber it’s worth considering different materials depending on the season.
Linen sheets, for example, are one of the best options for hot summer nights. Linen is a light, breathable fabric, which helps keep us cool in bed even if it’s hot outside.
Flannel, or other heavyweight cotton materials, are ideal for cold winter months. The weight of the material helps trap our body heat and keep us cozy.
Blankets, comforters, and duvets
To keep extra warm, keep a down or down-alternative duvet on your bed during the winter (making sure to cover it with equally festive fabrics and material).
Protect your neck with pillows that are firm, fluffy, or foam -- whichever is best for your sleep style. If you experience sleep apnea, joint pain, or are pregnant, consider additional support with a body pillow.
As summer approaches, the sun starts to peak into our windows much earlier than in the winter. For those that are sensitive to morning light, investing in a sleep mask or blackout curtains to block light is a great way to keep snoozing even as the sun rises early in the morning.
The data is clear, 30 minutes of aerobic exercise daily helps us get healthier sleep.
For those with a specific exercise routine, the changing of the season can throw a wrench in the plan. During winter, as the temperature drops and daylight dwindles, motivation to step outside may begin to dwindle. On the other hand, as summer approaches, scorching heat during the day may make exercise outside nearly impossible.
If exercising outside isn’t an option due to climate conditions, consider adopting indoor activities such as yoga, weightlifting, or even running on a treadmill.
Just be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime -- the stimulating effects of an aerobic workout may make it harder to fall asleep. Plan to finish any daily workouts at least 2 hours before bedtime for the best night's sleep.
Napping can have several health benefits and can promote rest, especially on days when sleep deficit has occurred.
That said, naps should be taken with care in mind. Napping too late in the day, or for too many hours, may make it harder to fall asleep at bedtime.
We’ve all been there: a nagging task or worry keeps us awake despite our best efforts to find sleep.
Mental health and sleep are intricately connected. Managing anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders is just as important as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. Many of the things in this guide, such as exercise, routine, and a healthy diet contribute to better mental health.
Those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may find it more difficult to manage anxiety and depression during the wintertime. Patients with SAD should avoid oversleeping if possible. Other potential considerations are bright light therapy or supplements such as vitamin D.
Talk to a doctor
If you’ve tried a variety of lifestyle changes but still experience extreme fluctuations in healthy sleep from season to season it may be time to contact a doctor.
A health care professional can diagnose and prescribe treatments for serious cases of insomnia, hypersomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, or other disorders related to sleep. A doctor may be able to recommend therapy or sleep medicine to help you get better sleep.
If SAD, depression, or anxiety is keeping you up, consider consulting a mental health professional.
While there are a variety of reasons the seasons affect our ability to sleep soundly, temperature and sunlight are two big hitters.
Unfortunately, we can’t change the axis of the earth. We can, however, provide some of the best sheets on the market to help you regulate your sleeping temperature no matter the season.
For comfortable, environmentally friendly sheets year-round, try our 100% Organic Cotton Bed Sheet Set
Our 1800 Bed Sheet Set, made from the highest quality microfiber is great for those in between seasons (read: spring and fall)
In the summer, nothing is more breathable than our 100% Flax Linen Bed Sheet Set
Winter is coming! Time to pull out those delicious flannel sheets. Mellanni’s got you covered no matter what your winter looks like with our Lightweight Cotton Flannel Sheet Set or our Heavyweight Cotton Flannel Sheet Set
Make sure you cover your duvet to keep it fresh and clean this winter. Check out our various duvet covers for every type of decor
We wish you a comfortable night's sleep!