Your body still needs around the same number of hours of good restful sleep in the winter as you do in summer, but it can be difficult to get the same quality of sleep during the darker months.
This can be down to a number of things, but stress is a significant factor in northern hemisphere winters. The upheaval and anxiety of Christmas holidays, financial worries, consistent lack of sunshine, fewer opportunities for getting together with friends or doing healthy outdoor activities can all lead to trouble getting to sleep.
While this might be familiar to you from bitter experience, what you may not know is how much poor sleep impacts your skin, whether you have a chronic skin condition or not.
Skin Health, Stress and Insomnia
When you’re feeling anxious, sleep is much harder to come by. Winter, with its long dark nights and short grey days, brings the blues like no other season, so it’s not surprising that sleep is often a casualty at this time of year.
But how does lack of sleep affect your skin? Sleep is as vital for the repair and regeneration of your skin as it is the rest of the body. Falling asleep triggers the release of hormones that work to support the healing of damaged skin, while lack of sleep and chronic stress increases cortisol which affects collagen production and throws the balance of your skin’s natural oils (sebum) out of whack.
This means that without adequate sleep, the skin barrier starts to suffer. Those prone to eczema might find their skin gets drier and itchier; those with reactive skin can suffer increased breakouts, spots and inflammation. An impaired skin barrier means you're more susceptible to eternal irritants as well as dehydration, setting up a vicious cycle of itchiness, inflammation, dryness and damage. The upshot of all this is that getting adequate sleep is absolutely crucial to winter wellness.
Here are some strategies for making sure your downtime is as beneficial as possible.
Cosy Up Your Bedroom
Try making your bedroom a retreat to hibernate in, rather than somewhere you can never truly relax into. Set the scene to calm all your senses, using sounds, senses, visuals, and scents to put you into a good state for sleep.
Lighting: keep lights low and warm, using fairy lights or mood lighting.
Fragrance: flame-less options are safest for night-time! Plug-in or reed diffusers, or a spritz from a lavender and chamomile pillow spray can make your bedroom feel calmer and more relaxing.
Weighted blankets: many people find weighted blankets can help their bodies relax and give in to sleep, because the sensation makes them feel safe and snuggled.
Bed linen: if you’re feeling itchy or hot and bothered at night, avoid synthetics next to your skin as far as possible. Choosing duvet covers and sheets made of cotton, bamboo or even silk can help prevent irritation or overheating your skin.
Sounds: choose some relaxing music or natural sounds to fall asleep to; you can find good choices for a slow, gentle soundtrack to sleep on most streaming services.
Temperature: keep your bedroom relatively cool, rather than too hot or too cold. Turn the central heating off or very low overnight.
Creating A Wind-Down Ritual
The bedtime routine that works for you is whatever fits into your own life, and will be sustainable over the weeks and months! If you have little ones, you may not have time or space for yoga, but might be able to download a meditation app to listen to later. Mix and match until you find a regime that works for you.
• Meditation or Yoga
A relaxing guided meditation specifically designed to get you to sleep can work really well to calm your mind as you go to bed. Or if you’re feeling more active, work through a yoga routine, like our Cold Weather Ritual created by wellness guru Tahira Herold.
• Make Yourself A Cup of Goodness
A warm bedtime drink, heavy on the chamomile, is a great way of unwinding and helping your body get ready for sleep. Try our Balmonds Calming Infusion, made with honey, ginger, chamomile and lemon.
• A Bath Before bed
Taking a bath can be a helpful wind-down routine, though if you have sensitive skin be careful not to dehydrate your skin with long, hot, scented baths! Keep the water temperature a little cooler, and add oil (our Bath & Body Oil is ideal) rather than fragranced bubbles which can irritate reactive skin. It’s also important to seal in moisture as soon as you get out: pat down your skin gently, leaving it everso slightly damp, and smooth oil or moisturiser all over to lock in hydration.
• Up The Humidity
Winter means drier air and drier skin, inside and out. While you’re unlikely to encounter dehydrating windchill in your bedroom, central heating and the general lower ambient temperature has the effect of drawing moisture out of your skin. To counter this, try investing in a humidifier, which can keep you breathing easier, reduce sore noses and throats, as well as helping dry skin. Much like how using a hydrating mist helps keep skin moist, dermatologists say keeping a humidifier running overnight in the bedroom can reduce the severity and frequency of dry skin flare-ups.
• Moisturise, Moisturise, Moisturise
This is the time to bring out the heavyweights! You need rich creams, emollient oils or oil-based balms to help support a depleted or fragile skin barrier. A good, semi-occlusive (ie breathable) balm like Skin Salvation can be really effective at locking in moisture, especially around the eyes, mouth, and nose where skin can feel tight and sore when dehydrated.
Layer on the nutrients to give skin all the help it can get when times are tough: a good facial massage with our Intensive Facial Oil can be incredibly beneficial before bed, not just because of its antioxidants, vitamins and essential fatty acids, but also because its calming chamomile and lavender oils are the perfect choice as sleep-inducing essential oils!
With these strategies for boosting your sleepiness, your skin will thank you!
Our recommended Balmonds products
to look after your skin overnight