There’s a lot to like about winter. From long nights spent drinking hot toddies in the pub to curling up by the fire with a favourite book or unleashing your inner child and sledging down a hill in the snow, it’s a glorious time of year.
You just have to look at the World Happiness Report for proof of the brilliance of winter. This year saw chilly Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark and Norway being named the top four countries in the world for happiness. In Denmark, where the sun will usually set before 4 pm, they even have their own wonderful world to describe winter - ‘hygge’, which roughly translates as ‘cosy’.
But brace yourselves, Brits. This winter is set to be the coldest we’ve experienced in over a century, with plenty of snow, ice and storms predicted for December and January. While this means the odds of a White Christmas are finally looking promising, the bitter chill certainly won’t help us on our daily mission to get a good night of sleep.
With this in mind, we’ve consulted the experts to bring you a definitive checklist of easy tips and tricks that will help keep you warm and snug on even the chilliest of nights. Head this way for the best sleep of your life…
1. Consider your bedding
This might sound obvious, but thicker, heavier bedding will help increase your body temperature on a cold night.
Opt for a duvet with a higher tog rating, which is a measure of how well the duvet can trap warm air. A 10.5 tog will keep you warm if you have good central heating, while those who want even more warmth from their bedding might prefer a rating of 13.5. Marks and Spencer have a great range of affordable bedding, plus a handy duvet guide.
Layering is also a good trick for keeping in the heat, so pile up your bed with as many blankets and duvets as it can handle.
2. Cuddle a hot water bottle
The humble hot water bottle is a brilliantly inexpensive way of keeping warm on even the coldest of nights. The Sleep Council recommend opting for one that has a soft cover on it, both to prevent scalding and to keep the bottle's heat insulated long into the night.
Research has also shown that nestling your feet underneath a hot water bottle will naturally switch on the body's sleep mechanism, helping you on your way to a restful night's sleep.
3. Soak in a hot bath
Nothing will warm you up and calm your mind quite like a soothing bubble bath. The advantages are twofold, as the warm water works to relax your muscles while the sudden dip in body temperature when you leave the bath helps send you off into a deeper sleep. Research has shown that our body temperature naturally dips just before we fall asleep, so this increased drop in temperature helps us fall asleep even faster.
Associate Professor at New York University School of Medicine, Joyce Walsleben, recommends taking a 20-30 minute dip up to two hours before bedtime for optimum results. Try adding a few drops of Neom Organic’s famed Tranquility Bath Foam (£22, neomorganics.com) to the running water and enjoy the relaxing blend of 19 pure essential oils.
4. Invest in an electric blanket
On a cold winters night the prospect of climbing into freezing cold bed sheets is about as attractive as the thought of cuddling up between two layers of ice.
Luckily you can skip this chilly part of bedtime completely by investing in an electric blanket. They may sound like the preserve of the over-70s, but they will keep your bed toasty and warm, guaranteeing you a better night of rest.
Those who don't like the thought of sleeping with an electric appliance on can opt for an underblanket that warms the bed before you get in, while others can go for an overblanket that acts like a heated duvet to keep you cosy throughout the night.
Just remember to check your blanket has a UK safety standard mark before you buy, and avoid buying second hand blankets that may not meet safety standards.
5. Sip a hot, milky drink
Good news for loyal fans of a nighttime Ovaltine - a hot, milky drink can encourage drowsiness.
This is thanks to two key ingredients, calcium and tryptophan, in milk. Scientists believe calcium can help our bodies to relax while tryptophan is converted into serotonin in the body, which is a natural hormone that helps prepare the body for sleep.
Opt for skimmed or semi-skimmed milk in your hot drink to enhance the sleep-inducing effect, as full fat milk can be harder for our bodies to digest throughout the night.
6. Pull on some bed socks
Our hands and feet make up the extremities of our bodies, meaning they can become cold much more quickly. This is particularly true if your feet end up sticking out of the bottom of the duvet in the middle of the night (we've all been there).
A soft pair of bed socks will help create a feeling of warmth and cosiness that will translate into a better sleep. Opt for some chunky thermal slipper socks (such as SockShop Heat Holders, £8.78 from sockshop.co.uk) or spoil yourself to a cashmere pair (such as The White Company Cashmere Bed Socks, £35 from thewhitecompany.com) for an added touch of luxury.
7. Spritz your pillow
Harness the powers of aromatherapy and try spritzing a pillow spray over your bedding. The calming scent will soothe your mind and help you drift to sleep.
We recommend This Works Sleep Plus Pillow Spray (£25, thisworks.com), which helps to restore your normal sleep pattern, even in the cold. The spray is formulated with a potent blend of lavender that continues to be released throughout the night as you move. Genius.
8. Wear pyjamas
If your underwear simply isn't cutting it for keeping you cosy in bed, then it may be time to invest in some pyjamas. Opt for styles made out of natural fibres such as a cotton and silk as these will keep you warmer than synthetic materials.