It is interesting how the changes in seasons can affect sleep and energy levels, especially in summer and winter. Some people experience more drastic changes than others depending on location.
How the Seasons Impact Sleep
The light and dark hours of a day play an important role in our natural sleep rhythms. The hormone known as melatonin helps the body relax and induce feelings of sleepiness. It is regulated by the amount of light the brain is exposed to, so as the sun goes down, melatonin production slowly increases, usually over the course of a twelve-hour period.
Consider places like Sweden or Canada where the winters can be extreme and daylight hours short. Sleep patterns are considerably different during the winter months versus summer months. Feelings of lethargy set in and energy levels drop because of the less sunny and much shorter days of winter.
Have you ever noticed feeling more energetic during the warmer times of the year? This is because during the summer season, daylight hours are longer, so your body produces less melatonin.
Enhance Your Sleep Environment
While the changes in the sun can’t be controlled, when you make simple alterations to your sleep environment, you’ll be better able to protect your sleep schedule and prevent issues of fatigue.
Because melatonin production is dependent on the amount of light exposure, if you find yourself having difficulty going to sleep at a normal time, try avoiding electronic devices at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime. Additionally, external light streaming into a bedroom can hinder the ability to drift off to sleep because it slows down or stops the production of melatonin. Blackout curtains will darken the room and signal to the brain that it’s time to sleep.
Regular sleep routines can be further supported by getting outdoors in the A.M. to enjoy the morning light. Whether you enjoy gardening, sitting outside to enjoy a morning cup of coffee, or starting your day with a morning stroll, the fresh air and sunshine will help you wake up and regulate melatonin production.
Alter Your Daily Activities
Along with enjoying the morning sun, consider implementing exercise. Based on research from the National Sleep Foundation, just ten minutes of physical activity on a daily basis will further promote sleep quality. Choose something you enjoy so you’ll stick with it, whether riding your bike or joining a friend on a hike or brisk walk, the key is to get your heart pumping.
Of course, it is easier to engage in outdoor activities in warm versus cold weather, but aerobic activity can be done anywhere inside or out. With that being said, it is worth noting that temperature somewhat affects sleep quality, too.
During the winter months, it is easy to bury under the covers and sleep. Experts suggest that the ideal room temperature for sleeping is 65 degrees Fahrenheit, however, the hotter temperatures can make sleeping more difficult, especially without air conditioning.
To alleviate this, sleep in breathable fabrics and use bed linens and blankets that suit the season. We covering up at night, if you find yourself feeling too warm, try keeping your hands uncovered and your body will naturally cool down so you can rest easy.