How to sleep better in winter

When daylight saving time ends in November, the transition provides a great opportunity to wake up early and soak up the extra light you’ll get in the morning. Of course, the end of daylight saving time also means that it will get dark an hour earlier. After the end of daylight saving time, sunset in Washington is at approximately 4:45 p.m. By winter solstice on Dec. 21, the sun sets as early as 4:20 p.m. in the region.

But it’s not just the shorter days of winter that can send sleep patterns a bit topsy-turvy. Dry air and colder weather in the Pacific Northwest are also factors. Charles Anderson, MD, a pulmonary physician at Kaiser Permanente Tacoma Medical Center, offers these tips to help you sleep better for a nurturing, healing cold-weather slumber this winter.

1. Get moving

Regular exercise goes a long way toward improving winter sleep and fending off weight gain, which can worsen conditions like sleep apnea. If you can exercise outdoors, soak up some natural light in the morning when you can.

2. Keep your nasal passages moist

Dry air from indoor forced air heating may cause more congestion and lead to more snoring and breathing patterns that aren’t conducive to restful sleep. To remedy this, stay hydrated during the day, use a humidifier during the night, or try a Neti pot to flush saline solution through your nasal passages before bedtime.

3. Eat lighter dinners

Cold weather is often accompanied by warm, heavy meals that aren’t great for a good night’s sleep. Instead of meat and potatoes, try making your own healthy soup for dinner.

4. Stay cool—but not cold—at night

We generally sleep better when it’s a little cooler says Dr. Anderson. Remember to lower the thermostat before you go to bed, but not too much. Many people find around 65 degrees to be a comfortable setting.

And before you turn out the light and say goodnight, subscribe to our newsletter. You’ll get fresh ideas and insights on health—delivered to your inbox.

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