Free U.S. Shipping For Orders $150+
Our internal circadian clock, which responds primarily to day and night, is also affected by the change of seasons. You have likely experienced this shift in how you sleep from one season to another.
For example summer brings warm nights that make you toss and turn more while winter brings longer nights that make us sleep longer. You may not realize that some of these changes are due to seasons. For instance, if you have allergies, have you ever noticed they get worse in spring and fall?
Understanding the science of seasonal sleep is important in dealing with the changes it brings. Otherwise, you might find your sleep quality going up and down with the seasons, and that’s not good for your health. So here’s a season by season guide on sleep to help you sleep soundly all year long.
The most notable change that happens in spring is that days get longer, meaning you are exposed to more light early in the morning as well as late in the evening. Having come from winter when nights were longer, this disrupts your circadian rhythm and sleep quality.
You’ll find yourself waking up earlier than usual, but struggling to go to sleep at your usual time since it is still light out. This can lead to sleep deprivation. On top of that, there is the effect of daylight savings time which further throws off the circadian clock.
Most people are able to adjust after a few days or weeks, but the initial period as spring sets in can be brutal for sleep quality.
One upside of spring is the warmer and milder weather. The cool, but not chilly, nights are great for sleep. Consider switching to a lighter comforter to avoid overheating.
Back to the negative effects of spring on sleep, spring brings with it more allergens as trees and flowers bloom. There’s more pollen in the air. The warmer weather and increased moisture (as ice melts) also causes mold to thrive. If there’s a water leak somewhere in your home, you may also have mold spores to contend with.
If you have allergies, spring can increase the frequency and severity of symptoms like sneezing, stuffy nose, and coughing. These disrupt your sleep and can leave you sleep deprived.
Back to some good news, the sunnier and warmer weather of spring helps reduce and eliminate winter blues. And as your mental health improves, you’ll likely sleep better. Spring also makes it easier to go outdoors and be more active, which is great for sleep.
Tips for Sleep During Spring
- Start sleeping earlier before spring arrives. Go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier. By the time spring arrives and the clocks are moved an hour ahead, you will find it easier to go to sleep in the evening.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule, going to sleep and waking up at the same time everyday. This will allow your circadian rhythm to adjust quicker to the new season. During the day, and especially in the morning and evening, spend time in the sun or let the sunlight into the house to help get your internal clock to match the longer days. This will reduce fatigue and sleepiness in the morning and evening.
- Make your bedroom darker using blackout curtains or wear a sleep mask to help you sleep better when it’s light outside.
- Watch out for moisture and leaks inside your home. Consider using a dehumidifier to prevent mold growth.
- If you are highly sensitive to allergens, consider using a HEPA air purifier in your bedroom to keep allergens out of the air.
As spring rolls into summer, days get even longer and temperatures continue to rise. Light exposure becomes a major problem for sleep since the sun rises earlier and sets later.
This can make it difficult to get the right amount of sleep. The early sunrise tells your body to wake up and the late sunset keeps you from sleeping, even if you are tired and sleepy.
Rising temperatures make sleep more difficult. We don't sleep well when we are too warm, especially for those of us who are naturally hot sleepers. Night sweats also make it hard to get comfortable in bed. And if there are heat waves, good quality sleep can get almost impossible to achieve.
As if all that is not enough, summer brings with it rising humidity. While this can feel nice in dry areas, it makes the house muggy and sweaty in wetter places like Florida. The rising humidity can also worsen respiratory problems like asthma and COPD. That’s not to mention the higher occurrence of mold spores that can trigger allergy symptoms.
Tips for Sleep During Summer
- Keep to a strict sleep routine, regardless of when the sun sets or rises. If you follow the sun, you won’t get enough sleep. Control the brightness of your room using blackout curtains or wearing a sleep mask.
- During the day, spend as much time as you can outdoors to help you stay alert. Exercise can also improve your circadian rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep at bedtime.
- Try multiple methods to make your bed cooler. Use products like a fan, portable AC or cooled mattress pad to chill your bedroom. Switching to lighter and more breathable bedding like our summer Jax sheets or the Jax comforter can also help you sleep better.
Fall brings some reprieve from the hot summer nights, making sleep cooler and easier. But changes in the length of days as well as the end of daylight savings time means our circadian rhythm gets disrupted once more, causing difficulties with sleep.
The end of DST sees the clocks get pushed back by an hour, giving us more sleep time. While this can get you more restful nights, it takes some time to adjust to the new cycle.
The shorter days mean the sun sets earlier and darkness falls sooner in the evening. This triggers your body to go into a ‘prepare for sleep’ mode. It produces more melatonin, which can make you sleepy before your usual bedtime.
Allergens begin to peak again during fall mostly from weeds such as ragweed. Worsening symptoms can disrupt sleep for people with allergies.
Another issue to watch out for is seasonal affective disorder (SAD), AKA winter blues. While SAD is mostly associated with winter, it can actually begin during fall as the days get shorter and we receive less sunlight. Poorer mental health can affect your sleep quality and cause problems like insomnia. Sleep problems are worse for people already with mental health problems.
Tips for Sleep During Fall
- As fall approaches, start adjusting your bedtime to a later time. Sleep 15-30 minutes later than usual. This makes it easier to adjust to the end of DST. It will also keep you from feeling sleepy too early in the evening.
- If you have allergies, take extra measures to protect yourself. A HEPA air purifier can help.
- Spend time outdoors during the day. This will help you stay alert and reduce the risk of feeling blue.
Winter is just as bad for sleep as summer is. From the plunging temperatures to the low humidity, it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep during winter.
Days are shortest in winter. And with less sunlight, we tend to sleep more. You might feel sleepy earlier in the evening as well as in the morning. It becomes a struggle to drag yourself out of bed on winter mornings.
The biting cold can also make it harder to sleep well. On top of that, humidity is lowest in winter, making breathing difficult and worsening symptoms of respiratory conditions like asthma.
Winter also takes a toll on our mental health. Seasonal affective disorder can leave you feeling down and sad. For many people, it causes hypersomnia or excessive sleepiness both during the day and night. As we discussed in a recent post, oversleeping is not exactly good for your health.
Sleep Tips for Winter
- Your body needs more sleep during winter, so make adjustments to your sleep schedule by going to bed earlier.
- To avoid daytime sleepiness, try to spend some time outside. This will make you more alert. It can also boost your moods and reduce symptoms of SAD.
- Make your bed or bedroom warmer by turning up the thermostat, using a space heater or heat pump, getting warmer bedding or using a bed heating pad or electric blanket.
- Consider adding a humidifier to your bedroom if the low humidity causes breathing discomfort.