Getting a good night’s sleep can make you feel like superwoman! When you’re well-rested, you have the energy to crank on your new business, crush a challenging workout, or check off all the to-dos on your list. Unfortunately, tons of people find that their sleep suffers from seasonal changes, which can make it hard to clock quality hours. We caught up with Helix co-founder and sleep expert Adam Tishman to better understand why the change of seasons can be disruptive to rest, along with how to remedy any problems you might experience.
How Seasons Can Affect Your Sleep
Seasonal changes affect the amount of light we’re exposed to each day, and while the amount you’ll get depends on where you live, Tishman reminds us that our internal body clocks can sense a change. “Our circadian rhythm, which determines our body clock, is regulated by exposure to light,” he explains.”Seven to nine hours of sleep a night is still ideal, no matter the time of year, but it’s common to feel less awake when you’re getting fewer hours of light in a day.” Though this isn’t necessarily a big deal for some, other people might suffer a mood shift with seasonal change, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (which is considered a form of clinical depression). “With depression comes a loss of energy and a need for more hours of sleep,” Tishman tells us. “Plus, as the weather gets colder, it often brings allergies and sickness, which always make it much harder to sleep.”
On the flip side, Tishman says it’s much easier for many people to sleep in cooler temperatures — so while some struggle to sleep during the winter, others find that the hot, humid summer weather keeps them up at night much more often.
Tishman’s Top Tips for Getting a Great Night’s Sleep
Whether you clock better quality sleep during the warm summer nights or prefer to get cozy under the covers as the snow falls outside, Tishman gave us a handful of tips that will help you nod off and wake up well-rested.
1. Nix noshing before bed. Snacking before bed might be a guilty pleasure, but Tishman says that it can rev up your system and make it hard to settle down when it’s time to hit the hay. “Eating also raises your body temperature, so if the weather’s getting warmer, this can really affect your ability to fall asleep,” he notes. If you’re still craving a snack, try a warm cup of chamomile tea or another decaf variety that’ll help you nod off.
2. Keep moving. “Exercise is always good, but it can be even more critical during times of seasonal change,” Tishman affirms. “While your body chemistry might shift with the change in light, you can help by getting your heart pumping each day, ideally in sunlight.” Not up for an intense cardio session? Go for a walk outside or take a candlelit yoga class — both options are low-key and should do the trick.
3. Soak up natural sunlight. “As the amount of light decreases with the end of daylight savings time, make sure you’re still getting a little bit each day,” Tishman advises. He shares that since light controls your circadian rhythm, making sure you continue to expose yourself to it (even as it wanes) will help to keep your body clock on track. If natural light is limited where you live, try moving your desk to a sunny spot, sitting near a window at lunch, or even taking a long drive on a cold, sunny day.
4. Control your environment as much as you can. When it comes to getting great sleep, Tishman is a big advocate for making sure your bedroom is a place of rest. “Keep your room dark, use your bed only for sleep, make sure your sheets are breathable and keep the temperature consistently cool and moderately humid.” He tells us that managing these things can make a major difference when it comes to falling asleep.
5. Set and stick to a sleep schedule. “Keep a consistent sleep schedule,” Tishman suggests. “Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This will help to maintain your circadian rhythm even as the seasonal changes mess with it.”
Does your sleep suffer when the seasons change? Tell us what you do to catch quality zzz’s on Twitter @BritandCo.