01 May How to Get Better Sleep Series: When Spring Has Sprung
Spring is finally here, and most of us are enjoying sunshine and warmer temperatures, more daylight hours, and nature coming alive again.
But did you know that spring is actually pretty tough on sleep for a lot of us? Here are four ways spring can cause sleep problems and what you can do to get better sleep this season:
Problem: Feeling Sleepy
You might be feeling a little drowsier than usual since spring has sprung, and you’re not sure why. You’re not imagining it. There’s actually a really good, science-based reason. When the seasons change, our bodies need time to adjust the sleep-wake cycle to the new patterns of the season. Quite possibly the biggest factor, even before the first official day of spring, is Daylight Saving Time when we lose that precious hour of sleep.
Solution: Prepare your body for Daylight Saving Time by adjusting your bedtime slightly in the days ahead.
Problem: Blooming Allergies
Plants waking up and everything in bloom wreaks havoc to millions of seasonal allergy sufferers. The allergy symptoms are bad during the day and feel even worse at night if they are preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Then the effects of sleep deprivation set in during the day which could prompt you to over-caffeinate or take ill-timed naps – the makings of a bad cycle for quality sleep. Even pets get allergies.
Solution: Over-the-counter allergy medications can reduce symptoms, but they can affect alertness that interfere with daytime activities and sleep. It’s recommended to talk with your doctor about which is best based on your allergies and symptoms.
Problem: Natural Disruptors
We mentioned nature coming alive. But what about when nature is waking you up before you want to? Can you hear birds chirping away just as sunlight starts streaming through your windows? For many people, these disruptions occur close to the time they would normally wake up, making them feel like they were robbed of the most precious and satisfying part of the entire night’s sleep.
Related blog: Read about the opposite problem when darkness makes it hard to sleep.
Problem: More Daylight, More to Do
That may not sound like a problem, but more daylight allowing you to fit more into your day can be a double-edged sword if it means the additional activities adversely impact your sleep time or quality. For example, some people tend to add high-intensity activities such as exercise to the end of their day when they gain daylight hours. This can cause sleep issues especially if it’s not something they’ve done consistently before. Exercise is good but when done too close to bedtime, it interferes with the body’s natural process of slowing down to promote sleep. Longer days also tend to get people out and socializing more later in the day and evening. Social time for many adults includes consuming alcohol, which if done two or three hours prior to bedtime, will cause you to wake up during the night and have restless sleep.
Solution: Enjoy the longer days but be mindful of how some activities and behaviors may sacrifice healthy sleep patterns. Plan high-intensity activities and consumption of food or drinks that can affect sleep so that they are more than three hours before you go to bed.