The Surprising Reasons Why Insomnia Loves Cold Weather

by Martin Reed Patient Advocate

While cold weather is a time of hibernation and sleep for many animals, it can have the opposite effect on humans. Cold weather has actually been known to lead to insomnia and sleepless nights. But just why is that?

Indoor temperatures rise

When it's cold outside the natural response is to crank up the heat. It feels cozy to be inside a toasty house during the winter. However, having a house that is too warm can have a negative impact on sleep. Our bodies tend to sleep better when they are in cooler settings.

To combat becoming overheated at night, lower the thermostat prior to bedtime so your bedroom and body temperature are a bit cooler than they are during your time awake.

Days get darker

The wintertime is known for its lack of light. The days are shorter and the sun just isn’t as bright. Because of this, we can often feel sleepy during the day. When bedtime finally rolls around, sleep may be hard to come by because we have been lazy or leisurely all day and the body just doesn’t feel like it is time to go to sleep. Our internal sleep/wake cycle has gotten confused and hovers in a lethargic state.

To combat this issue, take advantage of the daylight hours. Open the curtains and blinds in your home first thing in the morning. Also, go outside and let your skin soak in the light.

You can dress warmly and take a morning walk or simply sit in a chair and enjoy your morning cup of coffee. Even 15-30 minutes of direct sunlight exposure early in the day can do wonders for your sleep.

If a lack of light is truly a problem for you, consider purchasing a light box. They are ideal for those who suffer from the winter blues and lack of sleep as they use bright bulbs that reproduce the sun’s light. Look for a light box that emits at least 10,000 lux of light.

Meals become heavier

Most people eat heavier and heartier meals during the winter time. They warm up our insides on cold days and winter wouldn’t be the same without them. However, these types of meals late in the day take longer to digest and that alone can keep you awake at night.

To override this, try to avoid eating 4 to 5 hours prior to bedtime. If you become hungry before bed, opt for small snacks that aid sleep such as a small bowl of oatmeal or a banana.

The air becomes drier

The winter months are notorious for producing dry noses and throats. When this happens, you are more likely to sleep with your mouth open. This can lead to snoring, which further disrupts sleep. To combat dry air in your home, invest in a humidifier that can help keep the air somewhat moist.

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Land’s free two week insomnia sleep training course. Martin created his course after finding little help when searching online for insomnia cures. Over 3,000 insomniacs have completed his course and 96 percent of graduates say they would recommend it to a friend.

Martin Reed
Meet Our Writer
Martin Reed

Martin is the creator of Insomnia Coach, an eight-week course that combines online sleep education with individual sleep coaching. His course helps clients improve their sleep so they can enjoy a better life with more energy and start each day feeling happy, healthy, rested, and refreshed. Martin also runs a free sleep training course that has helped over 5,000 insomniacs. He holds a master’s degree in health and wellness education and studied clinical sleep health at the University of Delaware.