Learn more about the positive effects of sleep for health, fitness and weight loss.

Sleep Tips for Beating the Winter Blues

Sleep better and peacefully

Nothing could impact our health, mood, and vitality more than a good night’s sleep. Without it, we simply can’t function our best.  Less sleep directly compromises our immune system, lowers our stamina, and promotes the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (“SAD”).

Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by the “drowsiness” hormone melatonin, which is produced by the pineal gland. Melatonin levels are higher in the winter due to decreased sunlight, and without bright morning sunlight, it lingers longer in the morning. This makes it difficult to wake up.

Tips for Regulating Melatonin and the Sleep-Wake Cycle

Keeping your batteries replenished through the darker winter months is achieved by keeping your sleep-wake cycle similar to other times of the year.  Here’s how:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule as much as possible, even on the weekends.
  • Try to get as much natural light as possible in the morning hours before 8 am, to help lower melatonin levels.  Sit by the window or go for a morning walk.
  • Use a lightbox for phototherapy to help balance your circadian rhythm and combat SAD. This full-spectrum light can be placed next to your bed and programmed on a timer to get brighter in the mornings, to mimic sunrise. This helps shut off the production of melatonin. However, it’s important to use lightboxes according to the natural pattern of summer sunlight, because too much bright light at the wrong times can result in insomnia. So use them to stimulate dawn (6 am – 8 am) every morning for the duration of the winter.
  • If you take melatonin supplements, do so in consultation with your physician, and take it around 8 pm to avoid staying up too late, and sleeping in too late.
  • Keep active with exercise!  Not only does it release endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine hormones to lift your mood, but tiring your body with healthy exertion will naturally contribute to a restful sleep, and keep your energy levels higher during the day.

Although melatonin is the hormone that regulates hibernation in animals, we don’t have to spend the winter months drowsy and holed up in our houses. You can maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle through the winter, and get out and enjoy the season!

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, sleep deeply, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at or reach out below:

Sleep and Stress

Woman relaxing in a bubble bathIf insomnia is plaguing your sleep, you are probably one of the 75% suffering from too little, or frequently interupted rest, that is triggered by a current stressor. Most studies show that poor sleepers tend to have higher levels of Cortisol and related stress hormones in their bloodstream. Cortisol affects our sleep depth, continuum and state, and the long term lack, will affect our memory, cellular repair and energy management.

If you are looking for that deep state of rest and recovery found in “slow wave” sleep…do everything you can to reduce mental stimulation before going to bed. In 1910, the average nights sleep was 9 hrs, now it is 7.5 hrs, and dropping.  A 100 years ago, we didn’t have the News on TV, emails, movies, etc. to stimulate us and absorb our pre slumber hours. Allow “morphious” to seduce you away from your stressors by having a warm bath, massage, or meditate before retiring.

Stress Less…Sleep Deep

If you are having difficulty falling asleep at night, try walking the perimeter of your home…checking that doors and windows are locked. Sounds silly, but you will allow the unconscious to relax, knowing that “all is safe”, when it is stimulated by high levels of the stress hormone “Cortisol”, this part of your mind will relax…enabling us to drop into deep Stage 4 sleep.

Getting Good ZZZZZ’s

If you’re like me, you know when you’ve had a rough night of sleep. I’m usually not on my game, my energy is lower, my temper is shorter and people ask me “Are you tired?” The proof is on my face. Now imagine the impact of nights upon nights of poor or interrupted sleep? Vampires were right when they say that sleep is good for the blood, it’s also prevents heart disease, mental decline and overeating.

There are four stages of sleep, the deepest called REM. This is the deepest stage of sleep and important to experience in order to feel rested when you wake up. Deep sleep is also needed in order for the body to release the human growth hormone (HGH) known as one of the  anti-aging hormones. Benefits of this hormone include increasing lean muscle mass, a balanced weight, and feeling good. No deep sleep, no growth hormone output. Exercise also helps with HGH release, as taught at Mountain Trek.

Tips to help with a good night’s sleep? Turn down the lights a few hours before retiring (this includes no TV watching) as it can be too stimulating. Late night eating can create digestive disturbances, and need we mention caffienated beverages should be avoided?