How the Weather can Influence Your Sleep
Our sleep cycle and pattern is dependent on many, many factors including how much exercise we get, what we eat and drink throughout the day, and our overall health and lifestyle, but we don’t often pause to think about the effect that the weather has on our sleep. Changes in temperature, precipitation, humidity, atmospheric pressure, and more can impact both our quality and quantity of sleep. Whether it’s rain and storms, more humidity, or shorter days and drier air, each season can bring sleep struggles for different reasons. Once we tune in to how the seasons and weather are affecting our zzz’s we can work to anticipate these sleep struggles and mitigate them before they wreak havoc on our schedules.
Winter Weather and Sleep
Many of us struggle with motivation and energy during the winter months. We may feel as though we want ot hibernate like some animals do in the winter but struggle to get to sleep or sleep soundly through the night. Part of our winter struggle is due to the shorter days. Less daylight hours means less vitamin D, which affects our serotonin production. It’s no wonder than many of us get the “winter blahs” or even Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with less serotonin, but serotonin also plays a part in regulating our sleep-wake cycle. The good news is, though, that we generally sleep better with cooler air. Fall and winter bring about cooler temperatures, and these changes in temperature help ease us in to rest. Our core body temperaure cools off significantly while we slumber, and cooler air in the rooms where we sleep helps facilitate this process. If you struggle to sleep in the winter months, make sure that you are still getting the recommended amount of exercise throughout the week and are spending time outdoors. If you live in a climate where it is not possible to do so, sun lamps can be beneficial in increasing your vitamin D and serotonin production to help regulate your sleep.
Summer Weather and Sleep
It makes sense that if cooler air can help us sleep better that we may toss and turn during warmer weather due to being too hot. Sweating at night leaves us sticky and generally uncomfortable. It can feel like you just can’t cool off in hot, humid weather. Making sure to use air conditioning, lightweight bedding, ceiling fans, and avoiding eating too close to bedtime can help keep your body’s temperature cool. Selecting cooling bedding products – from pillows to sheets to mattresses and toppers – can help regulate your core temperature through the night to prevent tossing and turning.
One other important factor in sleeping in summer weather is summer storms. Loud thunder, bright lightening, and howling winds can keep us up at night and also contribute to anxiety about the weather and its effects, causing us to lose sleep. While it can be difficult to completely block out a storm from our awareness, using white noise machines, relaxation apps, and eye masks can help shield us from the effects of storms on our sleep.
Fall and Spring Weather and Sleep
While the Spring and Fall are known for more mild weather, these seasons can present challenges to our slumber, too. For instance, many people experience an uptick in allergy symptoms in the spring and fall. Itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy noses, and sore throats can make it difficult for us to get to – and stay – asleep. Using over the counter allergy medications and sleeping propped up on two pillows to elevate your head and neck can be helpful if you’re experiencing allergy or cold symptoms. Additionally, make sure that you opt fo hypoallergenic bedding products. Mites, allergens, mold, and bacteria can easily get trapped in our pillows and mattresses, making existing allergy problems even worse. Hypoallergenic bedding helps prevent these critters from sleeping in your bed with you and negatively impacting your ability to rest.
No matter what season brings a change of weather, sleep is crucial for our overall health and well-being, and we have to work to preserve it even in difficult circumstances. Making changes to your sleep environment and bedding is a great way to work towards safeguarding your sleep no matter what Mother Nature has in store.