Spring Has Sprung! So Why Are We Feeling So Sleepy?
We’ve been welcoming days full of sunshine, warmer breezes, and new blossoms. Spring has officially sprung, according to the calendar, and we were all happy to welcome the first day of spring on March 20th.
But if we’re no longer dealing with the cold, dark days of winter, why are we still feeling so sleepy?
We all expect to have boundless energy after coming out on the other side of a harsh winter, but many of us find that we’ve fallen victim to sleepiness as the seasons change. According to the National Sleep Foundation, a lot of our drowsiness is caused by the adjustments that our bodies are going through in terms of our sleep-wake cycles as we work to match the patterns of a new season.
When you pair the shift that’s occurring in our bodies with the subconscious changes in behavior that comes with the fluctuating seasons, what you end up with is a good chance of sleep deprivation. But if you can recognize what’s going on with Mother Nature and the change in your sleep pattern, you can take back control of your nights and cash in on the boost of energy you’re looking for this spring.
Here are 7 springtime elements that are robbing you of sleep (and what to do about them):
1. The dreaded time change
Just because we’ve sprung forward and gained an hour, it doesn’t mean that our bodies are feeling ready to leap out of bed when our alarms start screaming at us earlier each morning.
We have to allow our bodies to fall back into a natural rhythm when it comes to our sleep-wake cycle, and that happens for everyone at a different pace.
Give yourself a chance to get back into a good routine by trying a nap during the first couple of weeks after Daylight Saving Time, if you can, or try going to bed a bit earlier than usual each night – your body will thank you!
2. Sniffles from all the new blossoms
If you’re suffering from seasonal allergies, there’s a very good chance that they are robbing you of the deep, restorative sleep that your body needs.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America found that almost 60% of Americans that have nasal allergy symptoms have trouble falling to sleep and staying that way, thanks to sneezing, sniffling, or snoring.
Talk to your doctor about those symptoms and make a treatment plan that will help to reduce your problematic allergy-induced sleep disturbances.
3. Not cashing in on spring sunlight
Even though we’re all happy to have longer days to look forward, it doesn’t quite seem like it’s a reason to celebrate quite yet, thanks to darker mornings.
Many of us are missing out on exposure to sunlight on the way into work due to the time change, and that can wreak havoc on the ability of our bodies to produce enough melatonin (the hormone responsible for regulating sleep), which means that we’re finding it more difficult to get to sleep each night.
Make sure that you either work with the windows open or take a stroll outdoors during your lunch break to help ensure that you’re getting enough exposure of natural light to keep your melatonin levels where they need to be.
4. Unwanted early morning serenades
We all know by now that it’s important to have a sleep environment that helps encourage a good night’s rest by keeping our bedrooms quiet, cool, and dark. Right?
But apparently our feathery friends have other ideas, as they tend to sing us the song of their people with early morning birdsongs that can cause us to wake up even before our alarms go off. Ugh!
If the sounds of spring are keeping you from getting the sleep that you need, try investing in some sound-proof windows, or if you’re on a budget, you can pick up some earplugs at your local pharmacy or shopping center.
5. The temptation to get more done in the evenings
Now that we have longer, brighter days, many of us find that we have a heightened sense of optimism about all of the things that we can get done in the extra time, and a perception that we now have energy to burn.
But most of us find that our minds and bodies just aren’t in agreement on this one!
If you find yourself tempted to push back your workout to the evening thanks to the extra hour of sunlight, your best bet is to hold off on changing up your exercise routine, as high-intensity activities too close to bedtime can cause you to be too keyed up to catch the 8 hours of shut-eye that you need to be at your best the next day.
6. Getting too happy during happy hour
You also might find yourself tempted to imbibe in more nights out with friends, thanks to that extra hour of sunlight.
But as much fun as having a few beers or cocktails with your buddies after work might be, many health and sleep experts warn that alcohol can have a negative impact on sleep.
Consuming alcoholic beverages within 3 hours of bedtime can have an adverse “rebound effect” on your body that actually causes you to have more restless sleep, no matter what the old wisdom of having a nightcap to help you drift off might tell you.
7. Forgetting to prioritize sleep
And many of us find that we’re just so excited by springtime returning for another year, we simply fail to make sleep a priority.
Warmer temperatures and longer days can cause our normal behavioral rhythms to change, due to an increase of activity, causing an involuntary change to our sleep-wake routines, as well.
To make sure that you’re keeping your health and well-being at the forefront, try prioritizing sleep with the use of a sleep tracker, so you are encouraged to pay attention to how much sleep you’re getting, not to mention the quality of your sack time.
You can find an app for your smartphone that will do this for you, or even try keeping a sleep journal next to your bed, so you remember to make a conscious effort to keep an eye on when you’re shutting down for sleep each night, when you’re waking up each morning, and help you to understand the link between your sleep, environment, and behaviors, helping you to naturally promote better sleep.