As daylight hours become shorter, sleeping well in autumn can be a challenge. The season of pumpkin lattés, cosy sweaters, and falling leaves can mean months of poor sleep for some people. While autumn’s cool nights provide a nice bedtime break from summer’s hot evenings, a host of sleep problems can crop up during this time of year.
Why Is Sleep Affected in Autumn?
The decrease in the amount of daylight in the autumn influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm. Light affects the release of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm and makes you feel sleepy. Less light exposure means more melatonin, making you feel sluggish or more tired than usual. We don’t necessarily need more sleep during the autumn months, we just feel more tired. However, autumn doesn’t need to leave you fatigued and frustrated. Below, you’ll find three tips to sleeping well in autumn.
To find out more about your circadian rhythm, read our article here.
1. Enjoy Autumn’s Light
Less sunlight not only increases levels of melatonin, but it can also lower your levels of vitamin D, which can leave you feeling fatigued. Getting sunlight on your face in the morning can help you avoid this. Open the curtains as soon as you wake up and, if possible, go for a morning walk. In the evenings, do the opposite: dim the indoor lights to let your body know that it’s time to relax.
2. Keep the Heat Down
What’s more inviting than an open fire warming the house after spending the day in Autumn’s crisp chill? During this time of year, it’s tempting to light the fire or turn the heat up, but it’s actually better to keep your home – or, at least, the bedroom – cool. During the night, your internal temperature drops slightly. So, if you get too hot, your body will struggle to bring its temperature back down. This can wake you up, and you might struggle to get back to sleep. However, make sure that you don’t let the temperature drop too low, as being too cold can also interfere with your sleep. The ideal room temperature for night-time is around 16°C to 18°C, with the absolute maximum being 24°C.1
3. Keep a Good Mood
As melatonin levels are affected, the disruption of your sleep-wake cycle can cause daytime sleepiness and oversleeping, which can lower your mood. Some people can even experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression that sets in during autumn. Find out more about this in our topic here. For a good mood, and a better sleep, exercise regularly, and make sure that your bedroom is sleep-friendly. You can do this by keeping screens away from your bedtime – no TVs, phones, tablets, or laptops. Resist the urge to look at a screen for about an hour before you want to go to sleep, as this will let your body know that you’re getting ready to go to sleep. Also, keep your bedtime and waking time consistent, even during the weekends. Being consistent can help regulate your circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up the next morning. Having a steady routine will give you a good quality of sleep, and a better mood for the day.
If your tiredness is stopping you from going about your everyday life, it’s always important to visit your doctor to find out if there is an underlying cause.