Summer and the warmer weather has come to an end and this means the start of our shortened nights. No longer can we stroll in the evening sun at 7.30pm, the dark is coming earlier and bringing with it a range of changes to our lifestyles, our bodies, our health and our sleep.
The Autumn Blues
As the weather becomes cool, many people start to feel lethargic and weary. This weariness can lead to host of problems that can affect all aspects of our health and well-being. We can feel more run-down during the days come autumn because our eyes aren’t exposed to as much bright sunlight as we enjoyed during summer. When ultraviolet light hits your retinas, the brain fires up your circadian sleep rhythms, ensuring you sleep soundly at night and feel energised during the day. In many ways adjusting to autumn from summer is like switching from daytime work to evening shift work, the sudden shift in sun exposure caused by autumn may knock your sleep cycle off balance. The lack of Vitamin D we get from limited sun exposure in autumn also can make us feel fatigued and less energised during the day.
Autumn and Moodiness
It is not unusual for people to feel moody, tired, and even depressed when we progress into a new season. These seasonal disorders can pop up as a result of our lack of Vitamin D and poor sleep. When we are tired and lethargic during the day and the weather is darker and colder, we lose our motivation to exercise and eat well which impacts on our quality of sleep. We also tend to eat more carbohydrates and spend less time socializing in the autumn compared to the summer, which again affects our happiness and our sleep.
It Gets Darker Earlier
Whilst there are many negatives of the change in season, there are still some positives that autumn brings. When it becomes darker earlier it is more conducive and more inviting getting to bed earlier. It is difficult in the summer months to get to bed early when the sun is still shining, but autumn gives us a great chance to get to sleep earlier and in-turn wake up with the earlier sunrise. The cooler weather makes snuggling up to a warm blanket and unwinding and relaxing so much more enjoyable.
Autumn and Allergies
Another positive of autumn and its relationship with our sleep is the reduction of allergies in the air. It is so much easier to get some valuable rest when our breathing is difficult and we are always sniffling and reaching for the tissue box and antihistamines. Take advantage of the less pollen and the darker nights and start to prioritise your sleep.
Keys to Beating the Autumn Blues
- Focus on getting to bed earlier – In summer it is easy to give yourself excuses for going to bed late, it is after all tough to sleep when the sun is still out, but come autumn we no longer have that excuse. We need to combat the autumn tiredness from a lack of sunlight and get to bed earlier and start waking up earlier with the earlier sunrise. Having enough sleep can prevent people from feeling sleepy and lethargic throughout the day.
- Diet – When it gets colder we tend to reach for the comfort food and indulge in too many carb-rich meals. In order to combat feeling tired and sleepy we need to avoid eating greasy and oily food as this will only add to the problem. Eating more vegetables and fruit as well as drinking more water can help us feel more energised throughout the day.
- Exercise – Develop the habit of doing exercise in the morning or evening. Good physical activity can help people overcome feeling tired and in-turn benefit our sleep at night.
- Keep plants indoors – It is believed that the autumn tiredness that we feel when we step into the new season also has something to do with a lack of oxygen. Therefore, putting some plants indoors can generate more oxygen and promote a better sleep.
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