How To Combat Winter Circadian Rhythm Changes To Improve Your Sleep
With the winter months upon us, many will notice the impact of shorter days on their circadian rhythm, which can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Dysfunctional sleep patterns, such as insomnia and sleeping for too long are among the list of symptoms.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the ways that circadian rhythm changes in winter, and how you can combat these changes to improve your sleep.
EXPOSURE TO NATURAL LIGHT IS DECREASED
As natural light can become scarce in the winter months, it’s more and more difficult for the body to adjust to a normal sleep/wake cycle. For the most part, humans can be amazingly resilient to these changes, but for some, it can create serious problems. For those that suffer from a seasonal affective disorder or the milder winter blues, mood and energy levels can be greatly impacted by the long winter nights.
The National Sleep Foundation finds that as much as an additional 1.75 to 2.5 hours of sleep per night could be necessary for those suffering from a seasonal mood disorder. In these situations, exposure to natural light during daylight hours or the use of artificial natural lighting can be beneficial to restoring the body’s natural sleep/wake patterns.
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EXPOSURE TO ARTIFICIAL LIGHT IS INCREASED
Just as natural light fades faster during the winter, our use of artificial lighting increases. Blue light overexposure from electronic devices can leave you feeling awake when you shouldn’t, which is usually late at night, further increasing your grogginess in the morning.
For optimal sleep, it’s best to avoid the use of electronics right before bedtime. In many cases, however, and especially during the winter months, it can be difficult to block access to blue light entirely. For those who can’t avoid blue light in their daily lives, one option is blue light blocking glasses. These reduce the amount of blue light received from electronic devices, which helps to prevent the tendency to feel alert late at night.
Here are a few proven benefits of wearing our Night Swannies:
- Reduce digital eye strain
- Improve circadian rhythm
- Reduce headaches
- Help you fall asleep faster
- Boost your overall sleep quality
- Wake up feeling refreshed
- Enjoy general wellbeing
- Look fashionable
ACTIVITY IS REDUCED
Gloomy winter weather can seem like the perfect time to stay indoors and catch up on your favorite shows, but you should be careful about how much you reduce your activity levels. While it may be a winter tradition, spending too much time bundled up in bed or on the couch can also keep your body from adapting to the increased darkness of winter.
According to Dr. Emerson M. Wickwire, Sleep Medicine Program Director at Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Associates in Columbia, ignoring your body’s natural rhythm is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. He says, “Even if you’re tempted to stay in bed or on the couch all day long unless you are sick, it’s a good idea to get up and move around.”
It’s important to not stay in bed too long during the winter and to remain active. This will also help to ensure that when the sun is up that you’re able to receive some much-needed sunlight. It might be time to take up a new winter hobby that will provide some exercise in order to improve your sleep.
Read more health hacks for quality sleep, here.
ADAPTING IS CRITICAL
Despite the dark, cold days of winter, the human circadian clock is surprisingly adaptable and eventually, you should overcome feelings of winter grogginess. While it’s normal for the winter to affect your mood, it shouldn’t continue to affect your sleep patterns. If you continue to find yourself unable to adapt to seasonal change, it could signal a sleep disorder.
If you think that you may have a seasonal affective disorder or another condition affecting your body’s ability to adapt to seasonal changes in circadian rhythm, you should consult an expert in sleep and insomnia. Sleep tracking and fatigue prediction technology like Readi™ by Fatigue Science has helped to diagnose significant sleep disorders in individuals who find themselves fatigued throughout the day.
It’s common for many to be affected by the seasons, but with the right strategies, it should be possible for you to realign your circadian rhythms. If you’re struggling to adapt, be sure to seek further advice because it could signal sleep or seasonal disorder.
Do you want protection from blue light exposure at night?
Yes, please! Gimme a pair of Night Swannies.