January is widely considered to be one of the gloomy months. “Blue Monday” has just passed, and most people have no scientific basis for this so-called “most gloomy day of the year.” I know that (it was made up by travel agencies to advertise their holidays), but that doesn’t mean the idea is completely untrue. Many are experiencing some form of his January depression, some of which may be related to winter sleep patterns.
The amount and quality of sleep you get affects how you regulate your emotions. We spoke to a sleep expert to find out if there’s a way to “biohack” your way to a more restful night’s sleep (and a brighter mood this January).
Does Sleep Affect Your Mood?
“As one of the main components of our well-being, sleep plays an important role in our mental health,” explains Theresa Schnorbach, a sleep scientist who works for mattress brand Emma. (opens in new tab) (One of our best mattress brands).
As a general advice, adults need 7-9 hours per night.If you don’t get it, it can affect your mood as a result. (opens in new tab) People who get optimal sleep have shown fewer symptoms of mental health problems such as anxiety and depression,” adds Teresa.
“Sleep is a natural mood booster, allowing us to perform at our best socially, mentally and physically, so getting a good night’s rest can also improve your mental health.”
How does your body react when you don’t get quality sleep?
“If you don’t get enough sleep, you get less of the early restorative phase of sleep, which affects the parts of your brain that process emotions, leading to irritability and sadness,” explains Teresa.
“During the later stages of sleep, known as REM, levels of the stress- and anxiety-related chemical noradrenaline are shut off in the brain, reactivating brain structures associated with emotions and memory. Sleep is disrupted. “And these processes are also disrupted, and emotional regulation can go awry.”
Why is January particularly difficult?
The main problem here has to do with sunlight, or lack thereof. Circuits in the brain that control the production of hormones that regulate the sleep-wake cycle are sensitive to light. This means that on a dull winter day your brain doesn’t receive the same signals to keep you awake and alert (which is why it’s so hard to wake up when it’s dark).
“This limited light exposure makes us more tired. But felt Due to our increased need for sleep, our daily lives often increase our need for rest, and this tension can leave us lethargic, dazed, and affect our mood.
Some people also suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Mild to moderate depression that occurs in winter. Insomnia is known to contribute to SAD. This means that those who suffer are more likely to have their sleep quality affected as well.
Can you biohack your body to improve winter sleep?
Science is against us, but there are things you can do to trick your body into getting better sleep in the winter. is to use light. When you go to sleep, you want to bathe in warm light with reduced brightness. A study by Zhao et al. Al (2012) (opens in new tab) Red light therapy has been shown to increase levels of melatonin, a hormone associated with drowsiness, resulting in better sleep quality.
When you want to be more alert, you need a blue tone light. This interferes with melatonin production and raises cortisol levels to keep you awake. That’s the way it is,” Teresa says. “On sunny days, try to get some natural light as early in the day as possible. Not only will this help you feel refreshed, but it will also help you get a better night’s sleep.”
However, be careful not to expose yourself to this type of cool light before bed. It becomes difficult to sleep. Theresa recommends activating “Night Mode” on your device a few hours before bedtime to minimize the blue light emitted by your screen (ideally a few hours before bedtime). avoiding the screen altogether).
Anything else to try?
Another problem is that the lack of sunlight in winter means that your body doesn’t get enough vitamin D. You can increase your intake by eating foods rich in vitamin D (such as salmon, eggs, and fortified mushrooms) or by taking supplements. .
“My final recommendation to help you get better sleep during January and winter is to stick to a definite sleep schedule,” Teresa adds. The body “learns” the patterns and produces the appropriate hormones to promote sleep and wakefulness.
Theresa Schnorbach is a psychologist and sleep scientist specializing in clinical psychology and cognitive neuropsychology. She has completed postgraduate training in cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) by the German Sleep Society (DGSM), endorsed by the European Research Association. She works as a sleep specialist for bed brand Emma.