How our sleep changes in spring, and what to do about it

How our sleep changes in spring, and what to do about it

Seasonal shifts in sleep are a natural process of our yearly cycle. Find out why, and how to get the most out of sleep as we transition to warmer and lighter weather.

Spring is here. And with it, comes all change. Lighter days and nights. Warmer temperatures. New life all around. It's truly a glorious and long-awaited time in our part of the world, especially so after a hard winter. 

Our bodies are hardwired for the shifts the natural calendar brings, with years of evolution priming us for new behaviours. Our energy slowly but surely starts to increase; a direct response to the abundance that spring provides. We’re no longer in the season of hibernation. Now is the time to start moving again, to source newly available food groups, and to seek out light. 

There are four key factors to know to help you adjust to this period, so you can do your best to ensure the same quality of sleep. 

1. Your circadian rhythm is disrupted 
Increased exposure to natural light causes huge changes to circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is responsible for your body's internal schedule, regulated through photosensitive cells in your eyes that detect the brightness of your surroundings. These cells communicate with your body's master clock, determining physiological change. A healthy circadian rhythm goes way beyond sleep, underpinning cognitive function, susceptibility to diseases, and mood. 

What to do about it: Make sure you move your body throughout the day, exposing yourself to natural light and upping your step count. We best respond to exercise first thing in the morning, supporting healthy circadian rhythm. Try to limit exercise up to two hours before bedtime. 

2. Melatonin decreases from spring onwards
The production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, decreases from spring through to summer. We produce less melatonin now than in winter months. Melatonin also decreases as we age, so those over the age of 60 are more impacted by this seasonal shift. 

What to do about it: Consider lowering your caffeine intake, with no caffeine from midday onwards. Switch your phone’s Display & Brightness settings to night time mode from 6pm to reduce your exposure to light. Limit phone and all screen use two hours before bed.

3. Increased temperatures affect our quality of sleep 
Temperature affects sleep onset and sleep quality. Core body temperature needs to decrease in order for sleep to begin, with it continuing to decrease for you to drift into deep restorative sleep. A cool environment is the most conductive to sleep. Warmer temperatures reduce REM sleep and increase your chances of waking through the night.

What to do about it: Adjust your heavy tog winter bedding to a high quality breathable, temperature regulating and moisture-wicking lower tog duvet to support optimal body temperature at night. Turn off radiators in your bedroom and air your room, opening your windows before and, if safe to do so, through the night. Hot baths or showers before bed may seem counterintuitive, especially so in warmer months, but it does in fact promote better sleep. This is because your body will start heat loss measures, which mimics the core temperature loss that is a natural part of the sleep process. 

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4. Women are more likely to be impacted by these seasonal changes
Being more conscious of keeping a good sleep routine and ensuring you have the right bedding to support deep and restful sleep is more important for women of all ages. Women need more sleep than men (we advise more than 1-2 hours more than the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep for adults) in order to support stress recovery and hormone regulation; a vital part of overall wellbeing and long-term health. When women don’t get enough sleep, they experience higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol which impacts circadian rhythm, reduces immune system strength, and is linked to low mood. Unfortunately, research shows that women are more susceptible to symptoms of depression when sleep deprived. For women experiencing the menopause, sleep can be disrupted by hot flushes, which makes warmer weather a further challenge for quality sleep. If you are going through the menopause, you can try an Ava Innes Duvet as part of our Menopause Sleep Trail

What to do about it: Be extra conscious of your sleep routine, ensuring you’re doing everything you can to allow your body to get the rest it needs to regulate hormonal changes and stressors. Last, but not least, consider your bedding. We spend a third of our life asleep, quality bedding is not a luxury – it’s the foundation of our wellbeing. Invest in natural bedding that’s breathable, temperature regulating, and hypoallergenic. 

Read more about Women & Sleep, here.