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September 22nd, 2016

It’s Autumn- Fall into a Cozy Sleep!

As the weather cools, days get shorter, and summer starts to say goodbye, I find myself wondering if there’s a way to accelerate global warming just for this year… (Presidential candidates out there- get this on your list!) Hey, that doesn’t sound too bad, right? Wrong! Autumn actually has a lot of sleep and relaxation benefits; read on to take advantage of all the season has to offer.

Most people sleep better in cooler temperatures, and according to Dr. Christopher Winter, neurologist, and sleep specialist, the ideal sleeping temperatures are between 54-75 degrees Fahrenheit. This is good news for this time of year, because average in house temperatures should fall into this perfect zone, and there’s no need to rely on heating or air conditioning to sleep well.

Another sleep advantage for this season is that Daylight Savings Time (DST) is coming to an end. Although that may feel pretty depressing, research shows that people don’t sleep as well during DST. A study done by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine concluded that we may be suffering sleep loss of up to about a half hour during DST, and that daytime drowsiness increases, resulting in a loss of focus. Now we can finally embrace the “falling behind;” some extra shuteye and more concentration never hurt anyone!

Our sleep cycles are highly influenced by dark and light, and it is healthier to wake up to natural light than to a darkened, shaded room. In the summer that is an issue, because you may not be interested in waking with the sun at about 5 A.M., but now in the fall, a natural wakeup at around 7 is possible due to the later sunrise. More overcast days are another good sleep aid, as sunlight will hit your eyes later, allowing for a later wakeup when the clouds are heavy in the morning.

Another very important sleep factor is routine. Our bodies thrive on consistency, and we will fall asleep faster, and have a better quality sleep, when we are on a schedule. In this back to work, back to school season, establishing that routine will hopefully be easier. Adults are not too old for bedtime! Create a bedtime and an associated routine (shower, reading, relaxing, etc.), and try to follow it religiously. Your body will appreciate it, and will pay you back with a better night. Something important to mention here, is that any device with a screen that emits white light should not be a part of your bedtime routine. This confuses your circadian rhythm and makes it harder to fall asleep. Shut off your phone about 1-2 hours before bedtime for the best chance at a restful, healthful sleep.

Do you have a hard time falling asleep in total silence? You are not alone! Many people, (myself included,) MUST have some sort of white noise in order to lull themselves into sleep. This is another commonly overlooked benefit of fall- the rain can be an awesome natural white noise that calms, soothes, and helps you sleep.

As animals around the country are preparing to hibernate for the long winter, you can also enjoy a deeper sleep thanks to the changing season. Enjoy!

Resident word nerd and nap enthusiast. Committed to exploring the science in sleep and boldly snoozing where no one has snoozed before. ...that is when he's not exploring the bottom of his coffee cup or examining his eyelids at his desk. -_-zzz

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