Have you ever noticed that you sleep better or worse in certain seasons, like in the spring and fall? There are many factors that impact our sleep, including the outside environment. Changes in light, atmospheric pressure, temperature, precipitation, pollination, and noise influence us in many ways, both positive and negative.
With spring approaching, chances are you might be wanting to celebrate its arrival, and being able to see the sun’s shining rays longer. But, you might also be thinking about how the vernal equinox can affect your sleep, since springtime does bring a number of things that could keep you up, including “springtime fatigue”.
Before diving into how springtime can impact your sleep, let’s go over some relevant terms and dates.
When the calendar hits March 20, it signifies the astronomical first day of spring in the United States. The days become longer, until summer solstice, which occurs in June, and is when we recognize the longest day of the year. You’ll begin to see earlier dawns, and later sunsets.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the spring equinox, also known as the March equinox is identified when the Sun crosses the celestial equator and heads north into the sky. This event indicates the beginning of spring in the northern fifty percent of the planet, and signifies the length of day will be getting longer. As a term, equinox means that there are nearly equal parts of day and night in all portions of the earth.
This is just another name for Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere section of our earth. It occurs when the sun makes its way across the celestial equator, moving from south to north. At Noon, the sun’s rays are directly overhead on this equinox. (There are actually two equinoxes per year).
Your biological internal clock, also referred to as your circadian rhythm, regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycle. It can be influenced by several factors, including the amount of sunlight you're exposed during the seasons, including on the first day of spring.
Hours of Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation advises that most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. If you are experiencing springtime fatigue, it’s possible you are not getting enough sleep. Be cognizant of how many hours of sleep your body needs, and make a point to consistently get them.
What Is Springtime Fatigue?
Springtime fatigue refers to a state of lethargy, decreased energy, or depression related to the onset of spring on March 20 this year. It can make you feel extra tired, and more sleepy than normal. These types of symptoms often occur in the winter (December through March), but they can happen in the springtime and fall season, too.
Causes of Springtime Fatigue
During this time of year on our calendar, springtime fatigue is quite common, and it could leave you feeling lazy and tired. There are various causes of springtime fatigue, including:
1. Daylight Saving Time
The biggest reason behind spring fatigue is Daylight Saving Time. While many people adjust within a couple days, other people seem to struggle longer. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine published a study showing adolescents stayed tired throughout a whole week after Daylight Saving Time, and had slower reaction times. The increased light in the sky as the earth rotates can impact some people’s sleep quality.
2. Spring Allergies
Also common in the springtime are allergies, and they can keep you from achieving the most restorative, deeper stages of sleep when you're experiencing their effects. And, even if you aren't dealing with allergies, you might have a partner who is, and their sniffling and sneezing can keep you awake at night.
3. Noisy Early Morning Chirping Birds
As the sun crosses the celestial equator, the birds come out of hiding after a cold, long winter. They actually migrate north, with the movement of the sun. You'll notice more chirping as the temperatures get warmer, longer, and sunnier. This constant chirping can mess with your sleep.
4. Noisy Spring Storms
While hearing gentle rainfall might lull you to sleep, it may not be the case with noisy, strong spring thunderstorms, which can make it harder to fall asleep, or wake you up from a deep sleep.
5. Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, typically strikes in the winter. But, some people can be affected by the disorder in the spring (and even in the summer). In these people, the “overload” of light and/or heat triggers their SAD symptoms.
6. Exercising in the Evening Too Close to Bedtime
You can also impact your sleep by trying to fit too much into your day, simply because it's still light outdoors. The extra daylight hours do tend to make people feel like they can accomplish more, and do more activities. For instance, you may decide to fit your gym visit in later on in the day, and/or for longer stretches of time. But, this probably isn't the greatest idea, since performing high-intensity workouts too close to bedtime could impact how long it takes you to fall asleep.
7. Sleep Disorders
The change in seasons can cause a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and this isn't just a winter disorder either. While it's not as common, there are some individuals who struggle with SAD in the spring and summer. Symptoms of SAD like anxiety, agitation, and insomnia can impact sleep.
Springtime Sleep Tips
Some springtime tips you can follow are:
1. Spring Clean the Bedroom
Wash your sheets and vacuum. In the spring, many people prefer to open up their windows to air their home out. But, doing so allows allergens to get inside your home. If you must, you'll want to run a vacuum each night in your bedroom, and wash your sheets more often.
2. Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Maintain the same bedtime and wake-up times, including weekends, if you can. Keeping this routine can help keep your body clock regulated, which can help you fall and stay asleep at night.
3. Tweak Your Sleep Environment
Create a sleeping environment that will establish good, sound sleep conditions. Keep your bedroom cool and free of light or noise, which could disturb your sleep.
Sleep on a comfortable, supportive mattress. If you're sleeping on the same mattress you've had for over 10 years now, it might have exceeded its lifespan, and therefore, it could be time for a new one. Try a Latex for Less Natural Latex mattress. It's constructed with high-quality organic cotton, 100% natural latex, and pure natural wool. It's also certified by Eco-Institut, GOTS, and Oeko-Tex Standard 100. You'll also want to ensure you're sleeping on comfortable pillows.
4. Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Calming and quiet activities before bedtime like taking a bath or reading can help reduce anxiety, stress, and excitement. You'll also want to dim the lights, and avoid computer screens of any size about an hour or two before bed. This means putting away your smartphones and tablets, and turning your computers and TVs off.
5. Kick the Allergies to the Curb
If you struggle with allergies, there are various measures you can take to decrease your symptoms to help you sleep better:
- Reduce exposure. While it's not likely you can stay indoors all day, if you suffer from severe allergies, it's best to avoid the outdoors in the early mornings where pollen count will be at its highest, or during windy, dry days when the pollen will be airborne and swirling around.
- Keep windows and doors closed. This will help keep the pollen from getting into your home, particularly during the times just mentioned.
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom or home.
- Remove clothes you wore outdoors, and wash your clothing and bedding frequently. Don't hang your clothes or bedding outdoors to dry because they can collect pollen.
- Vacuum your floors
- Take a nasal decongestant and antihistamines with your doctor's approval (some nasal decongestants could cause insomnia).
- Use a saline spray. This is akin to a natural allergy remedy, and may be helpful for you.
- Take a hot steamy shower in the evening to clear out your sinuses.
6. Avoid Naps in the Mid-Day, Particularly in the Afternoon.
Power napping might help you get through your day, but it could keep you from being able to fall asleep at night. If you find this the case, eliminate all naps.
7. Expose Yourself to Natural Sunlight
Light helps control your circadian rhythm, so you'll want to ensure you're exposing yourself to northern hemisphere light to help keep your body clock regulated. If you don't have a lot of time to spend outdoors in the natural sunlight during the day during the onset of the vernal equinox, move your desk near a window where the sun streams in.
Getting outdoors to spend more time in the natural light is a great way to celebrate the arrival of spring.
8. Avoid Alcohol, Caffeine, Nicotine, and Other Sleep-Interfering Chemicals
Caffeine is a stimulant, and can keep you awake, so you'll want to avoid any caffeine (i.e. tea, coffee, soda, chocolate, certain pain relievers) a few hours before bedtime. Refrain from smoking too close to bedtime as well as drinking alcoholic beverages too close to bedtime.
While alcohol might seem to help put you to sleep, it works like a stimulant after a few hours, and will increase the number of awakenings you experience during the night. This will reduce the quality of your sleep.
9. Don’t Watch the Clock
For some people, watching the clock tick away when they are wide awake at night causes anxiety, as they know they are losing sleep. If this occurs with you, turn the clock away, or cover it with a washcloth.
10. Relax Before Bedtime
Overstimulation, stress, worry, and anxiety; all are things that can make it difficult for you to fall asleep. So, for about an hour before your bedtime, do things to relax you. Whether that is taking a warm bath, reading a good book, or cuddling with your dog, do things that understimulate you versus overstimulate you.
There are several ways to tackle spring fatigue. One of the best is to ensure you obtain the best quality sleep possible. And, this starts with sleeping on a comfortable, supportive mattress, like the Latex For Less Natural Latex Mattress. Use the onset of spring to reset your sleep habits, tweak your bedroom environment, and get the quality of sleep you deserve.
Here at Latex For Less, we hope you enjoy all this spring has to offer, including the longer length of day, and additional sunlight.