Spring has sprung! We take a look at how your sleep can change as the season brings on allergies, warmer weather and cooler foods.
Season changes bring new life, new colours and of course, allergies. From tree and grass pollen in Spring and Summer to pesky dust mites in the winter, allergies wreak havoc. Whilst antihistamines can result in temporary alleviation of symptoms, they can have an undesirable effect on the quality of our sleep, causing vivid dreams and even nightmares.
Summer in Australia means one thing… it’s hot. Especially in sunny Queensland, the hot, humid air makes it much harder to sleep at night. Feeling hot and sticky is not only physically uncomfortable, but it can prevent your body from settling into deep sleep and reaping all the good hormones released in the deeper stages of rest.
Interestingly, storms can disrupt our beauty sleep. Whilst gentle rainfall can aid rest, with its calming white noise effect, nosier storms can disrupt sleep – waking you in the night and making it harder to fall asleep and get those much-needed Z’s.
Thunderstorms and bad weather can also create anxiety as well. Or, if you experience obstructive sleep apnoea, the condition characterised by disrupted breathing during sleep, stormy weather can also have a detrimental effect. A study from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that the severity of symptoms increases with the lower atmospheric pressure associated with weather systems. Links between thunderstorms and asthma have also been documented, perhaps due to increases in pollen in the air.
In summer we tend to crave, lighter, fresher food. Think light salads, fresh seasonal fruit and of course, ice cream! However, when we eat full meals too close to bedtime, it can increase our body temperature – making it more uncomfortable for us to slumber. It’s important to allow a couple of hours space between dinner and bedtime. This allows our body to digest the food and prepare for sleep.
So, why is it important to makeover our sleep rituals for the different seasons?
As seasonal changes begin to take place, for example, longer or shorter days, and colder and warmer temperatures – we may notice it influences our sleep.
As the months move into Summer, we may also notice light levels change. As a result of light level changes, our melatonin levels and sleep cycle will differ. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us sleepy. Our levels begin to rise earlier in the evening and fall off earlier in the morning.
With spring just around the corner, what do you need to know about Spring and sleep?
1. Wake Up with The Sun
Spring is the time for new energy! The sun is starting to rise earlier and set later. If necessary, set your alarm and embrace new energy and beginnings as you watch the sunrise.
2. Step into Nature
According to Science Daily, research suggests spending time in or living close to, natural green spaces are associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, as well as increasing sleep duration. Plan a special spring equinox walk and look for signs of spring! Little buds and small flower are great findings.
3. Open A Window
Adjust to the new season and let the spring air in your bedroom. The nights can still be cool, an excellent way to reduce your body temperature is to open a bedroom window! Waking up to the sound of the birds and the smell of the fresh damp morning is a great way to start the day.
4. Spring Clean
Start the season fresh! Spring clean all areas of your life, including your house, and relationships. Rhythms and routines are a great way to start the season.
5. Create a New Bedtime Ritual
Lastly, but probably most importantly, you may want to consider changing up your bedtime ritual to accommodate the seasons change. You don’t need to make any drastic changes but tweaking your ritual can be invaluable. Maybe, you might include some barefoot walking at dusk – connecting to the earth can be a great grounding practice to help strengthen your mind, body and increase your immune system. You might also want to consider swapping out your nightly warm milk drink for a lighter, more refreshing herbal tea. Spring is the perfect time to enjoy outdoor exercise, ditch the treadmill and enjoy a run or walk in the fresh spring air!