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Seasonal insomnia during fall and winter affects so many people (including myself) — plus insomnia has gotten worse due to anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic.
"Insomnia [often] occurs in the winter, usually due to Seasonal Affective Disorder," William Heidary, a chiropractor and sleep expert shared with Yahoo Canada. "We are cooped up inside with a furnace running, dryer air, and more artificial light all day. All these affect our melatonin production, and when we impede this vital hormone, we contribute to our insomnia."
Since sleep issues are so common, especially with Daylight Saving Time ending, read on for Heidary's top tips for dealing with insomnia this season.
Decrease caffeine, soda and alcohol intake
Caffeine is a key contributor in modern-day sleep issues, and during the pandemic, coffee and soda consumption has increased significantly.
Heidary recommends cutting off caffeine intake at least 6 hours before bedtime, since caffeine blocks proper function of a sleep compound in the body called adenosine, making it harder to fall asleep.
"Remember, your body is recuperating while you are sleeping. It's at this time that your body is regenerating its tissues, cells and boosting your immune system," Heidary added.
Alcohol intake also impacts adenosine levels, making it harder to stay asleep at night.
"While alcohol may initially allow you to fall asleep, it increases the number of times you wake during the night," Heidary noted.
Limit screen time
Light from our phones and computers affects our sleep quality too. With the rise of online school and work, screen time has increased a great deal as we are exposed to more blue light throughout the day. This in turn affects your body's ability to produce melatonin, also known as the sleep hormone.
"We require the hormone melatonin to trigger sleep. Melatonin is released when our bodies are exposed to darkness," said Heidary.
"It is essential to prep your body for sleep by decreasing the amount of light before bed. You can do this by reducing your screen time, dimming the lights in the room, or using blue light glasses."
Go for a short walk
Exercise also helps boost melatonin, so even going for a short walk will help with restfulness before sleeping. Any type of exercise can help reduce anxiety and stress, which ultimately contributes to a better night's sleep.
"Go for that 20-minute walk to decrease your stress levels and get some vitamin D," concluded Heidary.
In case you're looking for more ways to improve your sleep, scroll through for a selection of must-have sleep products for the season.
Endy's foam mattress is designed to be breathable with better air flow to allow for cooler sleep. It eliminates motion transfer with its firm memory foam construction and comes packed in a box for easy set up.
SHOP IT: Endy, from $675
The Renew Pillow is copper-infused, and designed to decrease inflammation, reduce pain, and improve circulation while you sleep.
SHOP IT: Winkzzz, $172
This pillowcase is smooth, soft, and breathable, and won't cause skin irritation or hair knots. Plus the silky fabric keeps you cool at night.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $40
Made from mulberry silk, this sleep mask is soft, breathable, and soothes eyes at night. Adjustable to your liking, the mask is a perfect addition to your nightly routine that will create darkness to help you fall asleep.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $13
The merino wool throw is best for use at home or on the road when you're travelling. It's large enough to cover your body, keep you warm, yet still compact and light to carry with you from the bedroom, to living room or even a plane.
SHOP IT: Simons, $215
If you're in need of a deeper sleep, a weighted blanket is a must have. This blanket weighs in at 15 lbs, and is designed to promote calmness, minimize movement, reduce feelings of anxiety, and ultimately promote a deeper sleep.
SHOP IT: Endy, $195
Being exposed to light can disrupt sleep patterns, so add these blackout curtains to help block sunlight and UV rays, and get a good night's rest.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $45
Sometimes it can be difficult to fall asleep in complete silence or with a clocking ticking in the background. Try using a white noise machine, like this one with 20 different sleep sounds and various volumes for babies, children, or adults.
SHOP IT: Amazon, $30