A healthy sleep routine for winter

A Healthy Sleep Routine For Winters

Hibernation may seem tempting when the temperature drops – especially if you’re already exhausted by your busy family schedule – but, according to the experts, you shouldn’t adapt your sleep routine during winter.


Unlike animals, humans don’t need to sleep more in winter – even though many of us feel more sluggish when it’s cold outside. In fact, too much sleep could do more harm than good.

How much sleep do we really need?

Most people – including busy moms! – need about 7 - 9 hours of good-quality sleep per night to function well the next day. Less than 4 hours of sleep is dangerous, and could lead to early death. However, most of us are chronically sleep-deprived, getting only 5 - 6 hours of sleep per night.
Find a way to sleep more. Take turns with your partner to get up at night (one night on, one night off) and try to go to bed earlier if your sleep is frequently interrupted.

Is it true that we tend to sleep more in winter?

Yes and no. We wake up when it’s still dark outside, before the pineal gland (that produces melatonin) has been instructed to shut down, and the production of melatonin starts up again long before we're actually ready to go to bed. This adds up to many lethargic mornings and evenings.
Although many people end up waking later and retiring earlier during winter, there’s no real biological need for getting extra sleep. The bottom line? Don’t change your sleep cycle during the colder months. Simply ensure that you’re warm enough, and that your room is dark and quiet.

How can I sleep better, no matter what the season?

A few tips:

  • Make seasonal adjustments, if necessary, but set regular sleeping and waking times and stick with the schedule. This allows your body to get into a rhythm.
  • Get plenty of exercise outdoors, especially in winter, to maximise your exposure to daylight.
  • Ensure that your home environment and bedding are appropriate to the season.
  • Follow a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals throughout the year. In winter, we tend to eat more starchy foods as opposed to fruit and vegetables in summer. Make a point of eating your greens in winter, too.

Is it possible to sleep too much?

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Yes. Too much sleep has been linked to a host of medical problems including diabetes, heart disease, depression, obesity and headaches. Hypersomnia – when one sleeps for exceptionally long periods of time – is a medical disorder. Sufferers also experience symptoms of anxiety, low energy and memory loss. Discuss any worrying sleep patterns with your doctor and ask him/her to refer you to a sleep clinic for a proper diagnosis.

What’s the link between sleep and seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

The transition from autumn to winter can induce seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is categorised by depressive episodes that take place regularly during times of seasonal change, typically with the onset of winter. Symptoms include depression, excessive sleeping and overeating.

How can I ensure that my baby or toddler sleeps well in winter?

A cosy sleep environment is important. A few tips:

  • Choose a warm flannel fitted sheet for the crib.
  • Baby growers are best for babies to sleep in as their feet are covered, even if your little one kicks off the blanket.
  • Maintain a room temperature of between 16 - 20 degrees Celsius.
  • Give your child a security object such as a baby blanket or teddy bear.
  • Set a bedtime routine that doesn’t take more than 45 minutes. Keep it simple, e.g. include a relaxing bath, changing into pyjamas, reading a story, and switching off the light.

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