With winter rapidly approaching, there are certain things we can do to help us sleep better during the cooler months.
A study from earlier this year found that humans may need more sleep during winter as the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep we have increases by 30 minutes, which means we should be going to bed half an hour earlier to accommodate.
"In general, societies need to adjust sleep habits including length and timing to season, or adjust school and working schedules to seasonal sleep needs," Dr Dieter Kunz, corresponding author of the study, based at the Clinic of Sleep & Chronomedicine at the St Hedwig Hospital, Germany, said.
Another reason why we need more sleep in the winter is the prevalence of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during the colder season.
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According to the NHS, around 2 million Brits suffer from SAD, also known as the winter blues, which can be caused by the reduced daylight hours.
"Sunlight activates the production of serotonin, which is linked to a number of normal body functions. One of which is sleep," experts from Make My Blinds explains.
"Serotonin is a chemical precursor to melatonin - the main sleep hormone, and the lack of sunlight can lead to a reduction in melatonin. In order to improve the quality of your sleep, you need to be maximising the amount of sunlight you’re exposed to."
Luckily, there are several things you can do in your home to help you sleep better this winter.
1. Use blackout blinds in your bedroom
One of the easiest ways to get more sleep this winter is to use blackout blinds in your bedroom to block out any streetlights that could be coming through and allow you to get a better night’s sleep.
Having light filtering through when you sleep can stop the production of melatonin which can decrease your sleep quality.
If investing in new blinds is not in your budget, then consider buying a sleep mask (silk if possible) to pop over your eyes when you sleep and ensure you get a good night’s rest.
2. Have light coloured walls
Light coloured walls is one way to make the most of the winter daylight hours, the experts explain, as brighter hues reflect the light better than darker colours which will keep your circadian rhythm in check.
3. Keep your bedroom cool
As much as you’ll want to blast on the heating as soon as it starts to get a little chilly, you can actually sleep better if you keep your bedroom a little cooler.
The Make My Blinds experts explain that this is because your internal temperature drops as you prepare to fall asleep, so a too-hot room will increase the length it takes for you to get some shut-eye. Instead, the optimal temperature for your bedroom is between 18C and 21C.
4. Have a hot shower or bath before bed
Heating up with a hot shower or bath before bed can not only help us fall asleep quicker, but it can also increase our deep sleep by 10% to 15%, experts say.
This is because our internal temperature falls rapidly following a hot shower or bath, which mimics the process our bodies follow as it attempts to fall asleep.
5. Use a humidifier
As well as drying out our skin and hair, winter can also dry out our homes, which is why it could be a good idea to use a humidifier during the cooler months.
Dry air can also cause irritation to your nose, throat and skin which can make it harder to sleep, so adding a humidifier can put back that moisture in the air and in turn give you a better chance of more rest.
Sleep: Read more
How much sleep you need at different ages, from childhood to the later years (Yahoo Life UK, 7-min read)
10 expert-approved ways to sleep better, as millions of adults complain of being 'tired all the time' (Yahoo Life UK, 10-min read)
The five signs you're not getting enough sleep (Yahoo Life UK, 6-min read)