Sleeping in the Winter

Thanks to technology, winter isn’t a game of Survivor any more like it was in the 18th and 19th centuries. But even with heating and enormous puffy jackets, winter comes with its own challenges—specifically to sleeping. Reduced daylight and the social isolation accompanied by the blithering weather can throw off sleep patterns.

No Sun, No Sleep

In the winter, the days are short and the nights are long. With your circadian clock off-kilter, melatonin isn’t being suppressed as long and the lack of exposure to light can affect your energy levels, mood, and even drive for sleep.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Also known as SAD are those winter blues that stick around for months and is a clinical grade condition. It is a depression with a seasonal pattern that follows similar patterns to insomniacs, usually having more nightmares and more likely to be night owls.

Effective treatments like light therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which can also be used to help solve other sleep issues) have shown to help combat those winter blues.

Don’t Leave Me Alone

With it so cold outside the last thing you want to do is face the onslaught of cold waiting for you outside the confines of your home to hang out with people. But being so alone can contribute to winter blues, loneliness, and an all over decline in mental health, sleep, and well-being.

Work It Out

New Year’s resolutions bring about the usual signing up for a gym but there is something to be said about working out. As Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” Now that last part is a little extreme but you get the gist. While bundling up and lazing about seems like the perfect winter activity, it has been linked to poor sleep. So if going outside (especially in this weather) or going to a gym isn’t for you, try something at home between binge watching sets of your favorite shows.

It’s Getting Hot in Here…

Listen, I get it, it’s cold outside and you want that heat cranked up to warm up your numbed toes but this isn’t a day at the spa so there is no need for your home to be a sauna. As we discussed many times over, research has shown that the ideal sleep temperature is 65° Fahrenheit so if you’re really that cold, put on a pair of fuzzy socks.

Pro tip: use a humidifier near your bed to help counteract the drying effects of cold winter air and the heating going on in your home. They help to create an environment more suitable for a healthier sleep.

Daylight Savings

Spring ahead, fall  back. Twice a year we change the clocks to either gain or lose an hour of beloved sleep. We wind the clocks back in the fall and gain that much needed extra hour of shut eye. In the spring, we lose an hour and are all of a sudden sent into a tailspin of rushed obligations and sleep deprivation. Understandably, it is easier to get accustomed to that extra hour in the fall – or so we think. Any time change can throw the body off balance, and changing the clock in the fall makes our days shorter and the nights longer with people getting up an hour earlier than they are used to.

It takes about a week to adjust to the shift during daylight savings time for both the fall and spring. Meanwhile, here are some tips you can start in advance to make the transition a bit easier.

  • Start adjusting ahead of schedule
    • Adjust your sleep schedule by 10-15 minutes for a few days before the end of Daylight Savings Time.
  • Exercise
    • Although it is easy to give in the snooze button, waking up to exercise is a good way to kickstart the day. Exercising, particularly in the morning, releases serotonin in the brain, which helps the body adapt to the time change.
  • Wake up at the same time
    • Keeping a regular sleep schedule helps regulates the body. After a while, your body will get used to the rhythm of going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
    • This one should be simple. Alcohol and caffeine can interfere with sleep. If you already have trouble falling asleep, avoiding these two items can aid in sleep.
  • Resist the nap
    • It is best to avoid taking a nap during Daylight Savings Time, because it may make falling asleep for the night more difficult. If you really can’t avoid a nap, it is recommended to take a power nap that is no longer than 20 minutes.
  • Avoid late night snacking
    • Eating too late at night can cause indigestion, which may lead to insomnia as your stomach works over time to digest. It is best to finish dinner a few hours before bedtime.
  • Relax
    • If all else fails, it is important to remember to relax. Stressing and worrying about not being able to fall asleep can actually keep you up longer. Don’t worry, eventually sleep will come. If it doesn’t, it may be important to consult a doctor because you may be suffering from a more serious sleeping condition.

Sleep Talking

Somniloquy: to sleep talk, or not to sleep talk? That is the question. Simply put, somniloquy is a sleep disorder that involves unconscious talking during sleep, or sleep talking. Though mysterious, and sometimes off putting, sleep talking is actually a pretty common occurrence. Roughly 67% of adults have reported talking in their sleep at least once in the past three months.

Generally, sleep talking is nothing to worry about. It ranges from mumbling gibberish, to full coherent sentences. Sleep talking can be completely random or brought on by someone else talking to them while they are asleep. The voice may even sound a bit different from the person’s waking voice.  The content can vary from completely random, or relating to past or present experience. Understanding these words may be difficult and perhaps not even necessary, because it happens outside of conscious awareness. So anything you say in the middle of the night can’t be held against you. Although, not harmful, sleep talking can be embarrassing for the person, or annoying to other bed inhabitants.

Some things that cause these nocturnal outbursts to become more frequent include insufficient sleep, alcohol or drug use, illness, stress, anxiety, and depression. So if you have done any of these recently, don’t be surprised if some sleep talking ensues.

However, be mindful. Sometimes sleep talking is a sign of another sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, night terrors, or sleepwalking. So if you are consistently waking up tired, or feel sad often, it is important to consult with your doctor about your sleep talking.

See this fun video by Adam Rosenberg of himself sleep talking

Myth Busting Napping

If you’re like me, you rediscovered your love for naps in college when your schedule was a bit haphazard and you had a small chunk of time in the middle of the day. As an adult though, taking naps can be frowned upon and feel a little juvenile. Below we debunk some classic myths when it comes to napping and how it can actually be beneficial.

No Time to Cat Nap

If you have time to grab a coffee, a snack, and surf Facebook, you have time for a nap. Taking a 20 minute “power nap” helps to boost alertness.

Perfect Nap is 20 minutes

While 20 minutes is a power nap, there is also the 40 minute nap, the “replacement nap,” as well as the prophylactic nap, which means get into bed and sleep as long as you can. This is usually reserved for people who do shift work or those who are chronically sleep deprived. While this might seem like a great idea, we would like to mention that one person of the Tanda team took this kind of nap (by accident), slept until 8 p.m. and missed dinner with her family.

Usually the most beneficial nap is the power nap because it allows you to get enough sleep without getting the dreaded “sleep hangover” (this occurs when you take a nap longer than 20 minutes).

Napping ‘Till You Can’t Nap No More

Speaking of a sleep hangover, many people fear that they will sleep longer than intended. While technology in bed is frowned upon for nighttime sleeping, here it is your best friend. Use an alarm clock so you won’t over-nap.

Don’t Nap Too Close to Bed

This is actually true. Research shows that the ideal nap time is between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Here our circadian rhythm is at low energy levels and makes it easier to nap.

Bizarre Dreams, Party of 1

Napping puts you in a state between wakefulness and sleep or a “hypnagogic reverie.” In this state, you will have more lucid dreams and have you saying, “what a weird dream.”

All the Tabs in My Brain Won’t Close…and Where is that Music Playing From?

Ever felt like your brain was the Internet and you have 20 tabs open? (Raises hand). You aren’t alone and many people think they can’t nap because of this…but this isn’t true. The trick is consistency; take a nap at the same time every day for the same amount of time. Eventually, your brain will shut down and the music will magically stop playing.

Only Lazy People Nap

If lazy people weren’t actually so lazy and were reading this blog, they would be offended. Fortunately they aren’t but it doesn’t matter because to nap is to be human. History is littered with famous (and influential) people who espoused the benefits of napping. Don’t believe us? Take a nap and read this blog again, let us know how you feel.

Allergy Relief for Better Sleep

It’s that time of year where the smallest change in the weather can cause you to have those dreaded seasonal allergies. With reports of longer pollen seasons, allergy sufferers are having a hard time getting to sleep, especially in the spring, whereas in the fall there is ragweed and mold, and in the winter, those pesty dust mites.

What is a person suffering from these allergies to do in order to get some sleep? We have some solutions for you.

Go Hazmat on Your Room

No we don’t mean go about it like it is a radiation hot spot but deep cleaning your bedroom, where allergens like to hide out, is a great place to start.

  • Vacuum all the carpets & upholstery, a HEPA vacuum cleaner will help to do the trick
  • A HEPA air purifier will help to remove dust particles floating around your room
  • Those stuffed animals you had since you were a kid, they need to be washed just like your sheets
  • Speaking of sheets, your curtains and bedding need to be washed in 130°+ in order to kill dust mites

Give Your Bud a Bath—a lot

Those cute little pets you have can be walking allergen collectors, especially their fur, from when they are on their walks, playing outside, or just lazing about in the grass. Giving your pets frequent baths helps to reduce how much allergen collects in their fur. Another useful tip, have your pet sleep outside of the bedroom—as hard as this might be, it might help make sleeping easier during your seasonal allergies.

Say No to Sleep Meds

While they might help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep, unless specifically prescribed or told to take by a doctor, can lead to a sleep that isn’t all that great. So instead of reaching for that over-the-counter sleep aid, try our other tips instead.

Have any other tips for allergen sufferers out there? Let us know in the comments below.

Rise & Shine, Becoming a Morning Person in 10 Steps

Jealous of those supposed early birds who can get out of bed with ease while the rest of us begrudgingly roll out? You are not alone, many people have a love-hate relationship with mornings but there are ways to adjust your routine to make you a morning person.

  1. Catch them Zzz’s

As much as we wish we had more time to sleep this is actually important as getting 7-9 hours of sleep is essential to our health. Sleep has shown to help retain important information, heighten concentration, lower blood pressure and stress levels, and lead to better metabolism.

  1. No Screens in the Bedroom

As much as we all love watching some reality TV before bed (Below Deck anyone?), the blue light emitted from electronics, especially cell phones, laptops, and tablets can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle. If you can’t have no screens in bed, try and limit it to as few as possible or restrict access to at least an hour before bed. If not, adjust the brightness to as low as possible (some phones have a blue light filter that works off sunrise-sunset schedule).

  1. Lay Out Your Clothes the Night Before

While you might not be in elementary school anymore, laying out your clothes the night before will make you feel more confident for the next day.

  1. Create a Nighttime Routine

Create a ritual (read a book, brush your teeth, go to bed) you repeat night after night in a specific order. Your body will get used to your nighttime routine and know it is time to shut down and go to sleep.

  1. Don’t Hit that Snooze

As annoying as some alarms can be, get up when your alarm goes off because you might say 5 more minutes, close your eyes and boom, its 30 minutes later and you’re running around like a chicken with their head cut off because you’ll be late to work.

  1. Get Up at the Same Time Every Day

Ever wake up a couple minutes before your alarm clock? That’s your internal clock and it can be thrown off as simple as sleeping in too long over the weekends. If not, by getting up around the same time every day, you can develop this internal clock where the alarm is just there as backup plan.

  1. Mentally Plan Out Your Day

Got those morning blues? Right when you wake up, mentally plan out your day so you can prepare yourself. Have something to look forward to in order to get you through the day.

  1. Meditate

We’re not saying you need to get up and go to yoga at the crack of dawn, but mediating for 10 minutes in the morning before you start your day can help you feel a little jumpstarted for the day.

  1. Grab Some Nosh

They were right; breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In the morning, we usually feel rushed and don’t have time to grab some grub. However, breakfast gets your day going and kickstart your metabolism, giving you more energy throughout the day.

  1. Carpool with a buddy or coworker

Having some company in the morning will help you ease into the morning and sharing that time with other people will make sure you’re on time—giving you a reason to get up on time in the morning.

 

Are you converted morning person? Let us know what worked for you in the comments below.

Snore No More

Before that occurs, let’s do a quick Snoring 101.

Why Do We Sound Like a Lawn Mower Attached to a Giant Speaker?

The sounds that occur during snoring is due to the narrowing or obstruction of the airway while you are asleep. The muscles in this airway relax, making the passage smaller. Our breath travels through these passageways and causes the soft tissues to vibrate, making sound that we identify as snoring.

Myth: Snoring is Only Identifiable by the Noise

Not only do you make noises when you snore, there are waking symptoms of a potential snoring condition including headaches in the morning, trouble with memory, learning, and concentration, excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue, mood swing, anxiousness, and depression, and needing to get up throughout the night to use the bathroom. (If you have these symptoms consult a doctor and don’t go all WebMD and self-diagnose yourself).

Myth: People Who Snore are those Who are More Tired

There are actual risk factors in a person who is more likely to become “one who could wake the dead.” It occurs more often in men than women and can become more common for women during pregnancy. The chances of snoring increases in age for all and other factors include being overweight, drinking alcohol, smoking, nasal congesting, and a family history of snoring or other sleep-disrupting issues. You could also have none of these risk factors and still snore due to shape or construction of your airway, head or neck, which predisposes you to snoring.

Can I Change?

Yes you can! Well, maybe, it all depends if any of these “at home” remedies work for you. If not, you could have a sleep disorder and should see a doctor about other treatments that would best help you. But I digress; here are some treatments for snoring.

Lifestyle Changes

This includes a range of options including losing weight, even a small amount, which can make a significant difference in snoring.

Also, smoking aggravates the tissues in your airway, making snoring more likely, so add this to the reasons why you should quit smoking.

Avoid alcohol close to bedtime, about 3-4 hours beforehand and heavy meals.

Positional Therapy

Sleep on your back? Change it up! Sleeping on your back increases the chance of snoring as your tongue rolls back and your airway is further encouraged to narrow. Sleeping on your side can help to reduce or eliminate snoring as well as a supportive pillow for your head and neck (or sleep with your head slightly elevated).

Oral Appliances

We don’t mean sleeping with your toothbrush but those devices prescribed by sleep specialists to be worn during sleep. CPAP machines are usually given to those suffering from snoring where it is a symptom of sleep apnea and help to position the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open.

As always, consult a doctor before trying some of these remedies to see if your snoring is more severe and part of a diagnosis of a disruptive sleep disorder.