What’s your favorite time of year? Is there a season where you actually notice that you sleep better or worse? Sleep can affect plenty of things about our health—our allergies, our energy levels, even our moods. But one thing that weather is nearly guaranteed to have a big impact on is our sleep. Check out these 4 common ways that seasons, storms and sleep all work together... and tips for how to keep sleeping comfortably no matter the weather.
Longer days may mean more Vitamin D from the sun—and that’s a good thing. Vitamin D is helps your body to produce serotonin, and serotonin helps regulate your wake and sleep cycle. All that summer light may help you embrace the dark and get a good night’s sleep. That said, the summer months also bring weather that is more hot and humid than usual, which can negatively affect our sleep environment in ways we feel. Since the optimum sleeping temperature is between 60 and 70 degrees, those hotter months make it difficult to maintain this comfortable balance without running the A/C constantly.
Summer sleep tips:
- Swap the full blast A/C for a fan—a simple fan can not only help circulate air and keep you cool, but it can also produce calming white noise.
- Try pajamas made of breathable cotton or linen, and ditch the socks to stay cool.
- Invest in a mattress that has cooling technology—brownie points for picking one with a cooling infusion built into top layers.
- Try bamboo cotton sheets rather than traditional cotton or microfiber, since they're more breathable and sleep cooler.
Fall and Winter
No surprise, cool air helps you sleep. The cooler air supports a good, deep night’s rest. But despite the cooler air, shorter days in fall and winter months work against you, throwing off your sleep schedule and rise-with-the-sun benefits. Since you don’t get as much Vitamin D to help regulate your circadian rhythm, you might find it harder to fall asleep at night and rise in the morning.
Fall and winter sleep tips:
- Take a warm bath and enhance that cool-down-to-sleep routine when you get into that nice, cool bed.
- If you live in a warmer climate, try opening windows to bring cool, fresh air to enhance a cooler sleep environment.
- Counteract less sunshine by working near a window whenever possible.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
If you live in an area that has very short days, SAD can be a disorder that needs medical treatment. It is marked by depression that can reach levels requiring medical intervention, since SAD reduces the slow-wave sleep that is restful and restorative. If you think you might suffer from SAD, see a doctor. It is most common in women in the northern latitudes.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) sleep tips:
- Ask your doctor about white light therapy.
- Try a weighted comforter or blanket, designed to help reduce anxiety and send you off into a deeper sleep.
A storm with high winds, thunder and lightning may not only wake you up with loud noise and lightning’s bright, white light, it may also create anxiety that makes it hard to relax and get to sleep. Additionally, one study showed that sleep apnea symptoms increased with the lower atmospheric pressure associated with stormy weather. Gentle rains may help you sleep more deeply, but larger storms pose a risk to the quality of your sleep.
Storm season sleep tips:
- If storms tend to give you anxiety, try a weighted blanket that is designed to reduce anxiety.
- Invest in high quality ear plugs that can help shut out bothersome sounds.
- If you suffer from sleep apnea, consider purchasing an adjustable base for your bed.