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Falling Leaves and Falling Asleep–Part 2

by / Tuesday, 16 October 2012 / Published in Sleeping and Sleep Disorders

Spring forward, fall back. That expression refers to how our clocks are affected by the changing seasons. Not only the clock on the wall, but our body clocks–our circadian rhythms–can be affected as well. In my prior installment, I discussed how the onset of autumn and the oncoming winter season can disrupt sleep patterns for some. Here are a few tips that might make the transition easier:

Limit daytime naps. It can be tempting, especially as the days grow darker and more dreary, to grab a few winks on the couch. Such indulgences however, can throw off our sleep schedule and should be limited, especially if we’re prone to seasonal sleep problems.

Exercise. Keeping physically active during the daytime helps us to feel appropriately tired when evening comes and can promote easier and deeper sleep.

Don’t Exercise. Exercise or similar activities can fire up our metabolism. Doing it too late in the day can establish a momentum that can be hard to turn off when it comes time for sleep.

Have an evening snack. I know it seems to go against conventional wisdom–especially for dieters–but a light satisfying snack (like yogurt or fruit) can help us to feel more content and relaxed. It can also ward off hunger pangs that might keep us awake.

Mix it up in the bedroom. It can help re-emphasize the role sleep plays in our life, if we spruce up the bedroom. Rearranging the furniture, changing the color scheme, or adding a new comforter, might be just the thing to put our focus back into the importance of sleep.

Maintain a bedtime rhythm. Try to get to bed around the same time each night. Going to bed and rising in the morning at the same time establishes a rhythm that our bodies will recognize and respond to.

Dim those lights. As bedtime approaches, try to make your surroundings progressively darker. This could mean dimming or turning off room lights. It could also mean turning off that computer or television in favor of some light reading.

Keep your bedroom dark. The ambient light generated by the LEDs of various chargers, clocks, and gadgets in the bedroom can throw off a surprising amount of light. Such light can impact the quality of our sleep. Consider moving chargers, taping over LEDs, and getting a less obnoxiously bright clock.

These are just a few general tips for those times when we need a little extra help in getting back to a good sleep schedule. There are many more such tips out there. As with any such bits of advice, some may work for some, others may work for others. Find the ones that work for you, so that the next falling back you’ll do is into a restful sleep.