Snowstorms will rarely stop traffic in Brisbane, and students rarely have the opportunity to enjoy a snow day in Perth, but winter in Australia still has its share of problems. While winter in the country isn't as harsh as the cold season in other countries all over the world, it's not as easy here in the winter as some outsiders may think. Like the rest of the people who experience winter, its effects go beyond just how chilly we feel; they can also have an impact on our health and sleep patterns. Simply put, as there are changes in weather, there are also changes in our sleep.
How does Seasonal Change Affect Sleep?
Sleeping habits adhere to the cycle of day and night. As such, your doctor could advise you to create sleeping habits, especially if you have a seasonal affective disorder (SAD), to help you adjust according to the season. A way to start is to take note of the seasonal variations that have a significant impact on your sleeping pattern. Here are the factors in weather changes that may affect your sleep:
1. Environmental temperatures
The drop in temperature during winter is caused by shorter days, which means you get less sunlight and less vitamin D to normalise serotonin levels that regulate your sleep cycle. As a result, you often feel down in the dumps and fatigued causing you to oversleep. Too much sleep increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and depression.
While cold temperatures result in oversleeping, the change into hot seasons keeps you from falling asleep and affects the quality of your sleep. Sweating can cause you to toss and turn during the night resulting in an uncomfortable sleep. Over a few days, going without eight or more hours of sleep can have an impact on your mental state and make you irritable and angry.
2. Allergy symptoms
Do you sneeze or have a stuffy nose when you first wake up? Due to the heat bringing in the pollen in the air during the spring and summer, it can make your allergies worse. For some, difficulties sleeping may progress to more serious sleep disturbances such as bedwetting, insomnia, restless sleep, snoring, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and other forms of sleep-disordered breathing. If you have year-round or seasonal allergies, consulting your doctor may help get you the quality of sleep you need.
3. Excess light exposure
The length of the day in tropical Australia is roughly 12 hours throughout the year, although in the summer it can reach 14 hours. With this long light exposure during summer, it can affect your circadian rhythm. A study in 2005 showed that human bodies become tired earlier in the summer than they would in the winter due to greater light exposure, or the photoperiod. Since you stay awake for longer and sleep less, your sleeping pattern changes.
4. Cold and flu
The prevalence of cold and flu illnesses also noticeably increases in the winter, which is due to reduced exposure to the sun. In addition to making sleep uncomfortable, colds and the flu can cause coughing and snoring, which can make you more restless while sleeping. Antihistamines, even when used to alleviate symptoms, have been demonstrated to reduce the general quality of sleep. With this in mind, consider medical alternatives with the advice of your doctor.
5. Diet changes
Your diet gets swept up in the change of the winter season, especially with all the celebrations. Foods associated with the holidays are frequently loaded with sugar, starchy substances, and other unhealthy ingredients. These foods not only impact your metabolism and hunger, but they can also disrupt the balance of the hormone leptin, which is known to affect our sleep cycle. To make matters worse, a disturbed sleep pattern might affect your appetite, making you eat more food in general or "holiday-dense" items in particular. In the winter, this may encourage you to sleep more.
Tips For Changing Your Sleep With The Seasons
Seasons change, so you should also make your bedroom weather-appropriate for a restful night's sleep. Here are some tips you can follow:
- Choose warmer beddings during winter and only linen or cotton sheets during hot weather.
- Add socks with your nighttime PJs if you get cold or wear another layer of clothes to wear over the top.
- Set a sleeping schedule according to the season and strictly follow it, even during the holidays and weekends.
- Prepare meals that are sufficient with vitamins and minerals to avoid climate blues and combat flu, colds, and allergens.
- Consider sleeping medications or devices with the help of your doctor or GP.
Avoid Seasonal Sleep Distress with Home Healthcare Online
Sleeping factors that change in seasons like temperature, light, and time are outside our control. However, understanding how they might improve or impair our sleep can help us create the ideal sleeping environment. If you believe you or a member of your family has a sleep condition, consult with a board-certified sleep specialist and request a sleep assessment to know what sleep therapy devices you can get from us!