As you probably already know, quality sleep is one of the most important things that your body and mind need in order to function at your best. When you are in a really strong, consistent sleep routine, your sleep cycles act as a self-healing time. Information is processed and stored, cells shed and regenerate, heightened emotions settle, and your body can focus 100% on restoring where it needs to.
Essentially, you turn into the X-Men character, Wolverine, during the night. When you are deprived of sleep, especially over a period of time, negative effects such as inability to focus, loss of memory, weakened immune system, compromised nervous system, anxiety, and downward shifts in your overall mood start to become apparent.
Seasonal shifts can make maintaining your sleep cycle difficult, as our bodies naturally shift with our environment. If you’ve been on the #sleepstrugglebus lately and can’t figure out why this article might give you just the insight you’ve needed!
A long long long time ago, humans only knew to wake up when the OG of alarm clocks, the Sun, would rise in the morning. Our bodies are connected to the rhythm of our natural environment, and as mammals, we perceive signals of day and night as time-keeping mechanisms for rest and activity. Studies have shown that the duration of daylight has a tremendous impact on sleep patterns. For example, humans living in areas of the world that experience more seasonal shifts where the duration of daylight varies throughout the year reported high levels of fatigue, insomnia, and depression heading into the winter months. Humans living in places with more consistent daylight year-round don’t seem to struggle with these symptoms nearly as much.
Seasonal variation can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep! During the summer months, your body tends to produce melatonin earlier in the evening (the hormone involved in the timing of sleep) higher levels of Vitamin D which assists in regulating energy levels, and cools its core temperature down earlier at night than it does in winter months. The main reason for this is due to the photo-period (length of light exposure), which tends to be greater in the summer months. Light exposure early in the morning can impact our internal biological clock, shifting the timing of your sleep window.
If you are a midwesterner like myself or live in a region where the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer at certain times of the year, you’ve most likely felt these symptoms to some degree. The good news is we’re a smart species, and that means we have some control over our natural surroundings. We don’t have to be a victim of the natural world. When it comes to the seasons and sleep, we can do things to help the influence the former has on the latter.
Diet has a big impact on the quality of your sleep. Make room in your tummy for more vitamin D enriched foods to help counteract the lack of sunlight that usually infuses our cells with the good stuff. The timing of your eating is also extremely important, as eating too close to bedtime can leave your digestive system working and too active to settle down. Imagine honestly thinking you can fall asleep even though there is a construction crew working in the apartment above you. This is kind of the same concept. Too much activity for your mind and body to actually settle down.
We’ve talked a lot about light and how your circadian rhythm impacts your sleep, and while you can’t control when the sun rises and sets, you can control how much light you are allowing yourself to be stimulated by as you approach your ideal bedtime. With blue light coming from your electronic devices all throughout the day, simply making the choice to disconnect from your screen (phone, tv, computer) even for an hour before bed can really help.
Read a book! Meditate! Practice your breathwork…. I am just throwing out examples of activities I personally make a point to do to settle down before bed, but no matter what you do, letting your eyes rest from the blue light of your screen and shifting to an activity that is calming for you is key. If you can't pull away for whatever reason, there are plenty of products out there now that can help to shield the blue-light effects of your technology.
The ambient light given off by our All Natural Himalayan Salt Lamp is another stylish and helpful way to soothe your sensory overload. The soothing ambient light from these lamps is often used as a part of chromo-therapy, or, color therapy. The soft hues of orange, yellow and red are believed to help with attention deficit disorder, insomnia, and promote general relaxation. As light is emitted through the lamp, crystals of salt produce negative ions and help to neutralize positive ions in the air which can increase stress, weaken the immune system and cause fatigue.
Opt for dim light bulbs without blue light. This is especially important in the winter months because you’ll be bathed in unnatural light longer. Your body knows it is winter, and this can confuse your circadian rhythm. Let the warm glow of your lowly lit room calm you down as you get ready for a good night's sleep!