A change of seasons brings several issues for individuals looking to achieve a good night’s sleep. However, it can actually bring about much more than just skipping out on a few hours of sleep. Regular sleep loss can leave you feeling completely drained, unmotivated, melancholic, and possibly depressed. All of the symptoms can have an effect on your daily life, including your personal life, your job, schooling, or whatever else you find yourself needing to accomplish. Here is what you need to know about seasonal changes that affect sleep quality and how to take control over your sleep at the change of every season:
Shorter Days vs. Longer Days
The transition from winter to summer or vice versa can have a serious lighting effect on your day, which can, in turn, change your sleep habits — sometimes without you even knowing it’s happening. That is to say, when you go from longer, sunnier days to shorter, darker ones, your sleep cycle starts to get thrown for a loop.
Studies show that when it’s darker in our bedrooms at night, we have an easier time getting to sleep and staying asleep. Our bodies like to naturally wake up when we sense light in the room. As such, you may have noticed that you tend to have a harder time falling asleep (especially early) if the sun stays out longer during the summer.
Research also shows that when we’re exposed to the sun’s rays for longer periods each day, we absorb more vitamin D. This essential vitamin helps to control levels of serotonin in the body. Well-balanced serotonin levels mean that your body knows when you be awake and when to go to sleep. Some of us experience decreased levels of serotonin in the winter, which can lead to imbalanced sleep cycles, consistent feelings of melancholy, and possibly depression. That is one of the biggest seasonal changes that affect sleep quality.
What You Can Do About It:
Enjoy the long hours of light exposure you get in the summer, but you should try to keep your sleep schedule steady throughout the year. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Also, try creating a sleepy environment in your bedroom by shutting off all electronics at a certain time (an hour before bedtime is a good rule of thumb) and possibly invest in some blackout curtains. This will stop the sun from peeking through your window before you’re ready.
What’s more, if you find yourself having a hard time sticking to one schedule during the winter, do all of the above, but also think about getting a sun lamp. A sun lamp can regulate your vitamin D levels and help keep your circadian rhythm on track. Getting a stable amount of vitamin D and sleep each night can also help with seasonal feelings of depression.
The Temperature in Your Room & Humidity
As you know, in the summertime it can get quite hot, but with heat comes humidity. The amount of moisture that stays in the air significantly rises during the summer months. If you’re anything like me, you try to keep your bills low by not cranking the AC during the summer. You might even open up the windows to try to get a breeze going. However, our bodies might not completely agree with this strategy, especially when we are trying to sleep. For me, this is one of the worst seasonal changes that affect sleep quality.
The ideal temperature of your room when you’re trying to sleep is between 60 and 70 degrees. Now, everyone is a bit different, although most would agree that they tend to get better, deeper sleep when they sleep under these conditions. If it’s any hotter, many of us will sleep uncomfortably, wake up sweaty, and may toss and turn during the night. If you repeat this for the whole summer, you’re bound to find yourself constantly tired, groggy, and unable to perform your usual daily tasks.
What You Can Do About It:
For this reason, it’s a good idea to think about bumping your thermostat down a few degrees before you go to bed. If you can afford it, it’s worth it to pay for a good night’s rest. In fact, you can still keep your temperature a bit high during the day, but simply program your thermostat to cool down during sleep hours and rise again during the day.
Another great idea involves a humidifier. Sometimes in the summer, even if you turn down the temperature, the humidity in the room makes it difficult to sleep comfortably. If you find yourself getting congested during the summer and/or waking up sweaty, a humidifier can help you breathe easy and sleep soundly. An affordable humidifier could help solve all your tossing and turning at night. You may also want to find some more comfortable, breathable bedding. Use coupon code DYGEN15 to take 15% off everything at Downlite Bedding Company.
Allergies & Illnesses
When the seasons change, that is when we are the most vulnerable to things like pollen, other allergens, and illnesses. Certain illnesses thrive during the warmest seasons and others prefer to strike when our bodies are a bit more vulnerable due to cold weather. Dust traveling through the air, pet dander due to seasonal shedding, and much, much more can throw your body out of whack.
As a result, you may find that you have a hard time sleeping due to itchy eyes and throat, watering eyes, congestion and inflammation in your sinuses and nose, and much more. In addition, an unexpected cold or flu virus that strikes can completely ruin your normal schedule. In either of these scenarios, you may find it difficult to get motivated due to a lack of sleep and persistent uncomfortable bodily feelings which makes this one of the most annoying seasonal changes that affect sleep quality.
What You Can Do About It:
In addition to a humidifier for congestion, you might find yourself waking up regularly each night due to snoring or semi-blocked airways. You can always try a mouth guard for snoring, which will both open up your airways and also stop loud snoring from interrupting your sleep.
As you can see, there are a surprising number of environmental factors that could be keeping you from a good night’s rest. As such, you could benefit from employing some of these tactics and even looking out for other ways to help your sleep year-round. Additional ideas for getting a better night’s rest include eating well, moderating your alcohol intake, and not letting distracting items like smartphones keep you awake. Lastly, if you feel that your bed might be the culprit, there’s no better time to start shopping for a better mattress. I absolutely love my Layla Sleep Mattress and right now you can get $100 off any size mattress PLUS get $25 off pillows and $50 off foundations with the purchase of a new mattress. This is the best time to buy a new mattress and many of the negative feelings described here can be eliminated by taking just a few extra steps to ensure you get great sleep all year long.