Well-Being//

How to Get Better Sleep In the Winter

From charging your phone outside of your bedroom to setting an unwinding ritual before sleep, these tips will help you get the rest you need as it gets colder outside.

Westend61/ Getty Images
Westend61/ Getty Images

As we head into winter and do our best to prioritize our health and well-being, sleep is a crucial part of that equation. Research shows that many of us tend to feel more fatigued during the winter months, largely because we experience less exposure to sunlight and stay more sedentary than we do in the summer. What’s more, as we continue to cope with the stressors and uncertainties of a pandemic winter, giving our bodies the rest we need is vital.

We asked our Thrive community to share theirbest tips for getting quality sleep during the winter months. Which of these will you try?

Take a warm bath

“I love a winter sleep. It’s the best after a warm bath —something adults need to do more of. I then turn down the heat and get cozy under a quilt that was handmade by my mom. If I’m lucky, my cat will have been resting on the bed right in my spot warming it up for me just before bedtime. It’s calming just writing about it.”

—Donna Peters, career coach and business podcast host, Atlanta, GA

Charge your phone in a different room

“I discovered my go to tip sleep tip while I was on my honeymoon two years ago. We were in Paris and the only place to charge my phone was in the bathroom. I was able to get a better nights of sleep because I didn’t have my device at my fingertips.  It really helped with combating jet lag. I got into the practice of putting my phone ‘to bed’ in another room so I could give my eyes a rest, and the habit has improved my sleep quality ever since, especially during the wintertime.”

—Joyel Crawford, leadership development coach, Westmont, NJ

Drink a bedtime tea

“In the Midwest, where I live, temperatures are often below freezing, so I drink a decaf organic herbal sleepy time tea and use a heat wrap on my shoulders to relax my muscles. I also use a cool air humidifier because the air is dryer and it seems to help with my skin as well.”

—Kristin Meekhof, author and therapist, Royal Oak, MI 

Light a lavender candle

“Having recently experienced anxiety, I started a nighttime ritual of preparing chamomile tea, lighting a lavender candle and incense, and turning on my heated blanket. I light the candle and then take a shower. When I emerge from the shower, my bedroom is scented and warm. I relax, meditate, and drift into a deep sleep.”

—Gerry J. Tucker, author, Austin, TX

Exercise during the day

“Living in Canada, winter comes and I want to stay indoors, eat lots of carbs, and watch endless amounts of Netflix. It also tempts me to throw my exercise regime out the window. But I’ve found the less I exercise, the harder time I have when it comes to falling asleep and staying asleep. So, I try to keep up a consistent exercise routine throughout the year. Fitting movement into my day is the best way for me to get the sleep I need. If it’s nice out, I’ll walk outside for an hour, but we’ve also set up a stationary bike in the basement for the days where it’s too cold to go outdoors.”

—Kathryn Thompson, messaging strategist and copywriter, Saskatchewan, Canada

Wear blue light glasses

“I wear blue light glasses any time I’m looking at a screen after it is dark outside, whether it’s the TV, my phone, or laptop. It helps to block out the blue light, which can prevent our bodies from producing melatonin and getting quality sleep. I also add a layer to my bed, usually a heavier blanket to fall asleep under.”

—Julie Smith, senior marketing specialist, Charlotte, NC

Brain dump your to-do list

“To prepare my mind for sleep, I start the process of letting go of the concerns from the day at least two to three hours before bed. Turn down lights, turn off any noise, and begin to move into a more restful phase of your day. Unload your worries or your to-do list into a journal. This will allow you to rest rather than worry about what needs to be done tomorrow.”

—Patti Garland, certified health coach, New Milford, CT 

Cut down on caffeine

“My winter sleep remedy actually begins at the start of the day. With the winter months being colder, darker, and gloomier, it’s natural to want to drink more caffeine in the mornings to give you an extra pep in your step. However, I’ve found that cutting back how much caffeine you consume and being mindful of what time you’re consuming it will help you sleep much more soundly. Caffeine is known to cause restless sleep and wake you up in the middle of the night. My best tip: no more than two cups of caffeine each day, and drink them before 10:00 am.”

—Jenn Broderdorf, Enterprise Health consultant, Encinitas, CA 

Create the right atmosphere

“Studies show that cooler room temperatures can trigger the body’s sleep system, and keeping your head cool is ideal. Although everyone has their individual preferences, 65 degrees is a great place to start. Also, light inhibits the secretion of melatonin, so I find it’s important to keep the bedroom dark. If clutter bothers you, get rid of anything unnecessary. Also, make sure you have bedding that you love and makes you want to go to bed!”

—Kathryn Thomas, mindfulness coach, Auckland, New Zealand

Set a time to start winding down

“Bedtime routines are shown to decrease stress and increase a night of restful sleep. I suggest making sure you give your brain enough concrete signals that it is bedtime as possible.  For example, start the process 40 minutes before you plan to close your eyes for the night. Start off with things that help you wind down, like playing relaxing music, taking a hot bubble bath, or reading. All  of these are signals, and if done regularly, will let your brain know that it’s time to go to sleep.”

—Belinda Ginter, mindset success expert, Ontario, Canada 

What’s your best tip for getting quality sleep during the winter months? Share with us in the comments!

For more on the importance of sleep, check out the latest stories from Thrive Global’s Sleep Editor at Large, Shelly Ibach. 

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