9 Ways to Sleep Better During the Fall Months
Who doesn’t love the fall? We’ve got beautiful foliage, crisper air, and pumpkin spice lattes to look forward to, thanks to the first day of fall arriving on September 22nd.
There’s Halloween and Thanksgiving to enjoy, plus football games, cuddling up on the couch with a comfy blanket, and pulling out our favorite sweaters once again. Yes, this season has a lot to offer when it comes to perks.
Plus, you can wave goodbye to the scorching days of summer, and as the air around you cools, you’ll find yourself breathing a sigh of relief, not to mention lower power bills!
But the weather isn’t the only thing that changes when the clocks fall back at the end of Daylight Savings Time. There are also some transformations in our bodies, brains, and even social lives that happen during the fall season.
7 Changes to Expect During the Fall
Let’s take a look at some of the things that are going to be different during the fall, as well as (a bit later on) an offering on tips to help make this autumn your best one yet, by getting a better night’s rest.
1. Your Heart Rate Increases
As the temperature drops outside during the fall, the blood vessels in your body constrict in an effort to conserve heat. This results in higher blood pressure and an increased heart rate.
But don’t worry! This is totally normal and shouldn’t create any health concerns unless you’re already dealing with hypertension. In that case, you should reach out to your doctor to discuss some healthy choices for lowering your blood pressure.
2. Your Chance of Dehydration Goes Up
As strange as it might sound, you’re actually at a higher risk of becoming dehydrated during the autumn months than you are in the summer. How could that possibly be?
Well, in the sweltering summer months, we’re all much more conscious of the fact that we need to hydrate to beat the heat, which means we make an effort to keep a bottle of water close at hand to ward off dehydration.
In the fall, we’re not as likely to drink as much water, thanks to chugging more coffee, hot cider, and other beverages that go perfectly with sweater weather. Just be sure to get enough H2O (and take part in other simple but important self-care steps) as we head into the cooler days of fall.
3. You’re More in the Mood for Love
Blame it on the ideal cuddling weather, the earlier nights, or just the magic of a blazing fire, but whatever the reason, the fall season is synonymous with an increased libido and a higher pregnancy rate. So, if you’re trying to have a baby, now is the right time!
4. Your Memory Could Get a Boost
Not everyone loves the cold and snow that comes at the end of fall and the beginning of winter, but there just might be a good reason to change your mind if you’re dreading icy roads and frigid temps. Studies have shown that the cold weather improves memory, thanks to an increase in recall abilities. So, crank up the heater and get to work on that project you’ve been putting off!
5. You’ll Want to Socialize From the Couch
When the cooler and rainier nights of fall hit, many of us choose to stay nice and warm at home, instead of going out and painting the town red. That doesn’t mean we want to become hermits, but research has shown that once Daylight Savings Time comes around again and the nights become longer, most people pick up the phone to socialize with family and friends from home.
6. You Might Feel a Bit Moodier
You might have heard about (or even experienced) the Sunday Night Blues, when you feel down and out in anticipation of the work week to come. Well, now is the time of year when something similar occurs, thanks to the changing of the seasons.
Seasonal Affect Disorder (or SAD) can trigger depression in some folks as the temperature drops and the days become shorter. If you find yourself feeling down in the dumps this fall, be sure to talk with your doc about some natural ways you can boost your mood, including a simple vitamin supplement.
7. You’ll Feel Groggier Than Usual
It probably won’t come as much of a surprise to you that the fall months also tend to make you feel more groggy, even though it might feel as if you’re actually sleeping more, thanks to the longer nights that come with the clock falling back.
Shorter days and less exposure to the natural light from the sun can have us all feeling a bit slower than normal, not to mention the stormy weather and cooler temps that make us want to avoid getting out of bed at all.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly how the fall affects your sleep and some of the best tips for making sure that you’re feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, no matter the time of the year.
How Fall Affects Your Sleep
Part of the reason you feel more sluggish during the autumn is due to a change in your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle that’s caused by a decrease in the amount of sunlight you’re exposed to during the fall months.
When you’re out in the sunshine, your body uses the light to create melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep, and which is secreted from the pineal gland to help you know when it’s time for bed.
This natural and healthy chemical reaction takes place as ultraviolet light is absorbed by your retinas, and the secretion of melatonin keeps your body clock (also known as the circadian sleep rhythm) running like a finely-tuned machine.
In the fall, you aren’t getting as much vitamin D from the sun’s rays, which can lead to feelings of sluggishness and even depression, and your body isn’t producing as much melatonin as it does in the spring and summer.
9 Tips for Better Sleep This Fall
So, what can you do to make sure that you’re getting the high-quality sleep that you want and need, even with the fall months seemingly working against you? Let’s take a look at some of the top tips for better sleep, especially in the autumn…
1. Reset Your Body Clock
One of the best things you can do for your health and happiness is to create a regular sleep schedule and stick with it. Your goal should be to go to bed and wake up at the same time, each and every day, including on the weekends.
This will give your sleep-wake clock the chance to reset and make falling asleep much easier, which will help you get the minimum of 7 hours of rest you need each night you to perform at your peak, ward off health issues like heart disease, and even stay at a healthy weight.
2. Beat the System
If you can’t seem to find the strength to stick to your sleep schedule on the weekends, you can try cheating the system a bit by going to bed 15 minutes earlier than you usually would on the night after staying up later than you should.
And if you’ve really gone crazy for a birthday weekend or other special occasion, you can try to do a “full reboot” by going to bed more than hour earlier on Sunday night, in order to prep yourself for the week ahead.
3. Snack Smart
Research has shown that certain foods promote sleep, which means you can easily encourage your body to feel sleepy at bedtime by having the right kind of snack before hitting the hay.
Try munching on a handful of Brazil nuts and a glass of milk before bed. Both of these contain minerals that will help you to drift off to sleep more easily. Just be sure to avoid salty or fatty foods, which have been linked to reports of poor sleep quality.
4. Put the Sun to Work for You
We’ve already talked about how your body needs sunlight to produce the melatonin that will help you get to sleep. This makes it important to soak up some rays any time of the year, but it’s especially crucial in the fall months.
Your goal should be to spend at least 30 minutes outside in the mornings, if you’re working in an office or other indoor environments, which will help your body clock function as it should, as well as having the added bonus of making you feel more alert and awake at the start of your day.
5. Keep a Cool Head
Even if you like keeping your home warm, you should crank the thermostat down at night, if you want to get to sleep faster and stay that way. Sleep experts have found that the ideal sleeping temperature is 60-68 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter the time of year.
The fall months should make this easier, thanks to the cooler nights, and if you want to stay nice and toasty as you sleep, you can swap your summery cotton sheets for some flannel ones and add a cushy comforter.
6. Clear the Air
Feeling stuffy at night can keep you awake or cause sleep disturbances from snoring, neither of which sounds fun, right? Your breathing issues could be caused by allergens, dust, or pollen hiding in your air vents. Give them a good cleaning before the cold weather of winter strikes or try adding some oxygen-promoting plants to your bedroom to help you breathe easier and sleep better!
7. Try a Humidifier
Since the air tends to be drier in the fall than it is in the summer, you might find yourself suffering from an itchy nose or a sore throat, both of which can wreak havoc on your attempts to get a good night’s rest.
Investing in a good humidifier for your bedroom can help keep the air moist and prevent these issues from occurring in the first place, as well as warding off respiratory infections, the common cold, and even bouts of the flu.
8. Dim It Down
At least an hour before bedtime, you should be helping your body prep for rest by turning off your electronic devices (sorry, Netflix bingers!) and dimming the lights. This darker setting will send your brain the signal that it’s time to sleep, and help your pineal gland to start producing the melatonin you need to catch some Z’s.
9. Have a (Booze-Free) Nightcap
Your grandparents might have sworn by a shot of liquor before bedtime to help them get to sleep but we now know that alcohol actually causes sleeplessness and should be avoided before turning in for the night.
Luckily, there are plenty of sleep-friendly (and booze-free) beverages for those of us that enjoy imbibing in a cup of something before bed, including the old standbys like hot cocoa or cider, as well as lighter alternatives, such as cherry juice, chamomile tea, or coconut water.
Get Comfy for Your Best Sleep Ever
Now that you know what changes you can expect during the fall months and how they will affect your sleep, you might want to check out these tips for creating the most comfy sleep sanctuary ever, in order to help you get the ultimate night’s rest that you crave.