As seasons change, you may need to make adjustments to ensure getting the sleep possible. Some of us still haven’t quite shifted our sleep schedule as much as we should from summer. During the fall, we might find that we are still doing many activities in the evening and nighttime, making it difficult to fall asleep at the proper time. This then builds up into more trouble getting up in the morning, daytime sleepiness and sleeping in on the weekends as an attempt to “catch up” on lost sleep (which rarely works).
Some people can just change their sleep timing and go to bed earlier without any issues, even so if you are one of those people, you should still aim to keep a consistent sleep-wake schedule 7 days a week. If you are having trouble getting to bed this fall, try these suggestions:
Create A Fake Sunset At Home. Encourage your body to get sleepy. Dim the lights and avoid any screen time (i.e. cell phones, TVs, computers) at least an hour before your new bedtime. When the sun starts to set, our brains naturally produce a hormone called, melatonin. This hormone helps induce sleepiness and keep us asleep throughout the night. Bright light can limit melatonin production, and blue light (especially from all the electronics screens) is an even bigger offender.
Wind down. Practice relaxing your mind and body. Now is not the time to return emails and be active. Find calming, soothing activities and hobbies such as reading a book or taking a bubble bath.
Light Bright Mornings. When you wake up, get up and open all the curtains in your house. Expose your body to as much natural light possible. Try eating breakfast in front of a window. Bright light stops melatonin production, wakes us up and helps us keep a more consistent bed and wake schedule.
Stay The Course. Keep a steady sleep-wake schedule 7 days a week. If you sleep in on the weekends, you’ll only make it harder to go to bed at a more normal time come Sunday night.
Slow And Steady. You find that you are having trouble adjusting to your new bedtime immediately, a gradual schedule can help. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier (and wake up 15 minutes earlier) every day until you reach your target bed and wake times. This also means that you should dim the lights and wind down at home 15 minutes earlier every night.
Eat For Sleep. Keep your overall diet healthy. Limit sugar at night and avoid anything with caffeine after noon. Also, avoid alcohol in the evenings, at least 3 hours before bedtime, it can further disrupt your sleep.
Make it your goal to get the sleep you deserve. If you are still struggling sleep issues, speak with a licensed physician or a sleep specialist. There are plenty of helpful treatments out there!