At this time of year the Dorset Tea team definitely fall into two camps. While some of us are still out embracing icy sea dips in Dorset’s crystal clear waters, others are snuggling up in PJ’s and lighting a fire to stay toasty. One thing we all agree on though, we do tend to feel a bit sleepier throughout winter. We’ve been looking at why this is, what we can do to maximise the quality of our sleep and how a lovely cup of Cool Camomile tea might just help!
Why do we feel sleepier through the winter?
If you have the urge to head to bed early through the winter and you simply want to hibernate, then you may be interested to know that this is your body’s natural reaction to the change in seasons. As the days become shorter and we get less sunlight, our natural sleep and waking cycle (our circadian rhythm) is affected. As natural light disappears in the evening, our bodies release melatonin, a natural hormone that makes us feel drowsy. It’s not until the sun rises in the morning that our bodies then release cortisal instead, making us feel alert and awake. With such short days through the winter we naturally produce more of our sleepy hormone than we do through the spring and the summer! So it’s not just the draw of a log fire and Strictly Come Dancing that makes us want to zzzz on the sofa then!
Why is sleep important?
Sleep is vital in allowing us to maintain healthy bodies and minds - we actually spend about one third of our lives sleeping! While you may think you’re simply lying in bed not doing an awful lot, your body is actually working pretty hard when you’re asleep.
The brain is busy storing new information and getting rid of toxic waste. It’s said to be the time when short-term memories are converted into long-term memories and less useful information is filtered out. Essentially sleep helps our brain functions so we are able to problem solve, make decisions, build memories, focus and concentrate.
Sleep can also really impact our emotional response to situations. Many of us will be very familiar with the phrase ‘it’s so much worse when you’re tired’ and this is true! The areas of our brain that control our reaction to stressful situations are directly effected by how much sleep we’ve had – they are much more adaptive when we’ve had enough sleep!
Chronic sleep deprivation has also been linked to weight gain. With our hunger hormones being activated when we’ve not slept, you will feel hungrier when you’re tired. It’s really common to reach for a sugary drink or sweet treat after a bad night’s sleep, or feel less inclined to exercise and all this has a knock on effect to our weight.
We talked about immunity on our last blog post and one important factor in keeping us healthy is getting enough sleep. The body is busy repairing cells, restoring energy and releasing proteins and hormones while we sleep and all of these functions help our immune response to be able to fight off germs. It’s vital to get enough sleep when we’re poorly or stressed.
How much sleep do we need?
Although it can be tempting to hit the snooze button in the morning and doze through those chilly mornings, the NHS website recommends eight hours of uninterrupted sleep for most adults. While we may feel like sleeping more in the winter, we don’t actually need any more than normal, and oversleeping can actually make us feel even more sluggish during the day!
Top Tips for a good night's sleep
If you struggle to sleep or aren’t in much of a sleep routine, here are some tips that might just help you to start zzzing through the night.
- Cut down on caffeine. As a stimulant, caffeine not only interferes with the process of dropping off to sleep, it also prevents you getting into a deep sleep. If you like a warm drink before bed, we’d recommend our Cool Camomile Not only is it caffeine free, camomile is well regarded as a sleep inducer! It contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which is said to decrease anxiety and induce sleep!
- Exercise regularly. As well as helping you to fight off the winter tiredness, exercise in the late afternoon will help you get a better night’s sleep.
- Relax! Stress contributes to tiredness so try and do something that you enjoy everyday. It doesn’t need to be anything complicated, expensive or time consuming. Even practicing a few moments of mindfulness each day, or some yoga or meditation can hep you feel more relaxed and improve your sleep quality.
- Eat well. As we’ve all ready mentioned, sleep can effect your healthy weight, so try not to give in to the temptation of comfort foods. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables with those classic winter dishes and you may want to research vitamin supplements.
If you’d like to try our Cool Camomile tea, head over to our Tea Shop now, or, if it’s all ready one of your firm favourites, why not visit our Amazon store where you can bulk buy four boxes for just £9.99!