Most people love leaving winter behind and moving into spring. The temperatures are changing, you lost an hour a couple of weeks ago and the sun is up past 6PM (Halleluiah!)
But some people report having a harder time falling asleep this time of year. Why is that?
Your circadian rhythm is being impacted by ALL of this. It’s adjusting to the longer sun light, the temperatures going up and by now it should be adjusted to the hour we lost. It’s all very natural but there’s some things you can do to help with this adjustment, and your body & mind will thank you.
- What you do in the morning will impact how easy it is to fall asleep later that night. If you get up before the sun make sure you get about 20-30 minutes of sunlight exposure when it does rise in the morning. This will decrease melatonin production and strengthen your wake system (which in turn strengthens your sleep system at bedtime). Have a cup of coffee on the back porch, try driving without sunglasses to work, walk the dog in a sunny spot in the neighborhood. There are easy ways to increase sunlight exposure without having to go out of your way to do so.
- Create a bedtime routine. I have my clients try out a strict bedtime routine for 14 days. This helps train the body & mind that it’s time for bed. Here’s a great example: By 9 PM put the phone in another room and don’t touch it again until the morning. Watch a light, funny show to unwind while drinking a hot cup of herbal tea. 9:30PM: Do some deep breathing or a 10 minute bed time yoga routine on Youtube (Here’s a link to some of the best for beginners). If your feeling drowsy get into bed and read for 15-20 minutes, then lights out! All of these will start being cues to the body that’s it’s time for bed: The hot tea, the relaxing yoga, the reading in bed. You’ll be amazed how responsive the body can be to routines.
- Put the caffeine down by lunch: In an ideal world I recommend no caffeine after 10 AM to clients that are struggling with sleep. It can have alerting affects for 12 hours after you stop drinking it. Or take small steps by switching to green tea after 10 AM and be done with all caffeine by noon.
- Walk: It’s nice out, the sun is up longer so go for a later afternoon, early evening walk. Exercise 3-6 hours before bed helps the internal body temperature drop, which makes you nice and drowsy come bed time. Don’t workout too close to bed because it could impact your sleep.
- As always be patient! If sleep has been a problem for a while, be patient with your new routine. It’s not guaranteed to work magic the first time for a reason. Do it for 14 days before you allow yourself to decide whether it’s been helpful.
- As always seek help from a professional if you suffer from insomnia. The good news is that you do NOT have to live life tired. Reaching out for help is the first step to feeling well rest, rejuvenated and happy in the morning.
Danielle Swimm, LCPC: Danielle is a holistic psychotherapist that specializes in insomnia & nutrition. She’s a wellness enthusiastic with a passion for mind, body health. She works with clients struggling with insomnia, anxiety, binge eating and depression. She offers psychotherapy at her Annapolis office and virtual sleep coaching sessions.