Autumn’s arrival can be both good and bad for getting a good night’s sleep. The season’s longer nights can make it easier for you get more rest, while its shorter days can disrupt your sleep schedule. Whether this season’s falling leaves and cooler temps make it easier or harder for you to fall asleep, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time in the sheets.
Let in light
While you may love sweater weather, you might not welcome autumn’s effect on your emotions and sleep cycle. That’s because fall can bring on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression that can be triggered by fewer hours of sunlight. If this season’s shorter days bring you down or make you feel too fatigued, here are some things you can do.
- Brighten your bedroom. It can be difficult to get up in the morning if your room is dark. Open your curtains or shades immediately after waking up, or leave your blinds or curtains slightly open at bedtime, depending on your privacy needs. You could also get an alarm clock that simulates morning light, or use a smart light bulb or smart plug for your bedside lamp and program it to turn on in the morning if you rise before the sun does. Keep your space as bright as possible during the day to increase your alertness.
- Take a morning walk. You can take in some morning rays with an early walk. A few minutes strolling outside could help your body’s natural circadian rhythm for better sleep and get your heart pumping to make you feel more alert.
Stick to a schedule
The fall can bring new routines, which can disrupt your ability to sleep. But if you keep a consistent sleep schedule, you should be able to remain well rested. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including on the weekends. Ideally, you should aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. To ease stress and insomnia, get out of bed for a bit if you can’t fall asleep after twenty minutes and do something restful like reading a book for a short period of time before returning to bed.
Create a restful environment
Although you’ll want to soak up as much sun as possible during the day, a dark bedroom is best for sleep, so buy room-darkening curtains if street lights illuminate your room at night. If you have clocks and other light-emitting electronic devices in your bedroom, try moving them or blocking the lights with tape or sticky notes. A quiet room is also ideal, so if you have a noisy partner or if other sounds disrupt your sleep, wear earplugs.
Regulate food and drink
Caffeine might seem like a good thing when you are feeling sleepy, but if you drink or eat too much or if you have it too close to bedtime, it can hinder your sleep since this stimulant can stay in your blood stream for up to ten hours. If you are prone to insomnia, limit your daily intake of caffeinated foods and drinks, such as chocolate, coffee, tea, and soda. Also, avoid going to bed too full or hungry, since the discomfort could interrupt your sleep.
Avoid late-night exercise
Evening cardio can put a pep in your step and raise your heart rate, so unless you want to burn the midnight oil, try doing some simple stretches or yoga instead to help you settle down and get ready for bed.
Limit blue light
You might find it relaxing to watch your favorite program or catch up on the news on your mobile device, TV, or laptop just before bed, but the blue light emitted by these devices can keep you up at night and trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime. Wearing blue-light-blocking glasses or using your device’s night mode can block some of this light.
Regulate the temperature
The temperature of your bedroom can play a big role in how well you sleep, so try to keep your space between 60°F to 67°F—a room that is hotter or colder than this could awaken you at night. Too much heat can disrupt your restorative REM sleep, while a room that’s too cold can disturb your sleep, too, as you struggle to stay warm.
Implement these simple changes this fall to help you get the rest you need.