What happens to our sleep patterns when we move from the summer months into autumn? In Europe and North America, this transition has already started as we approach the end of September.
During the summer, sunlight continues into the evening hours and the feeling of night feels delayed. That’s why it may be so difficult to get children to sleep at their regular bedtimes during the summer months! As daylight hours shorten, it may become easier to get the small ones to sleep but actually harder for adults to get their needed rest. The reason for this is our exposure to vitamin D decreases in the autumn months.
Our bodies actually manufacture vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D is important in the production of melatonin, which helps us regulate our circadian rhythms and promotes restful sleep. During the autumn months, there are fewer sunlit hours so our bodies may produce less melatonin. One way to overcome this possible shortage is to make sure to spend time outside, even as the weather cools down. In other words, make sure to get sun exposure!
Depending on personal preferences, some people may find it difficult to exercise when summer heat is at its highest. Autumn may well be the perfect outdoor climate for those who stayed in air-conditioned rooms all summer long! Getting a good dose of outdoor exercise—even in cloudy weather—helps obtain the sun exposure (you can get sunburned even when it’s cloudy!) and the sleep benefits that come along with a well worked-out body. And, exercise is known to decrease anxiety and stress, all of which help promote a good night’s sleep.
One proviso about exercise is not to work out too close to your bedtime. When you exercise, your body is revved up. If you do that right before you go to bed, it might take longer to fall asleep, because your body will need to calm down. In order to get the most sleep-boosting benefits, aim to workout at least three to six hours before you plan to go to sleep.1
When we transition into autumn, just as some people will find it harder to get restful sleep, there are others who might actually find it hard to stay awake until it’s their actual bedtime. This is again related to light exposure. Falling asleep too early can also disrupt the natural circadian rhythm and lead to an exhausting day; therefore, staying in brightly lit rooms up to two hours before bedtime is recommended. This helps to keep the brain alert until it’s the correct time to start winding down.2
Depending on your sleep habits—whether you sleep with the window open or use centralized air conditioning or heating—moving from summer into autumn may be the ideal time to change your bedding. You may opt for flannel sheets instead of lighter cotton and you may choose a warmer comforter for autumn. It all has to do with temperature control, and you are the best judge of what helps you sleep best.
Our immune systems are more fragile during seasonal transitions, especially since we are exposed to colds and flu at this time of year. We need good restful sleep to keep the immune system functioning optimally. So, if you can’t get the best sleep at night, try for a “power nap” during the day. Even 20 minutes can be helpful for staying in a state of Active Wellness.
No matter what season we are in, Kenko Sleep Technology is the Nikken way to help you sleep like a baby. We just added the Kenko Naturest® Makura to our line of sleep products and rave reviews are coming in. Try this layered ergonomic pillow with three types of sleep technology—pair it with a Kenko Naturest® Fit and add a Kenko Dream or Dream Light Comforter for sweet dreams. And don’t forget that tomorrow is the last day to get 30% off the KenkoAir Purifier®, HEPA filtration to help you breathe fresh air all day and all night long!