We all look forward to the longer days of spring and summer with warmer temperatures. That's great when you're up and about, but when it's time to get to sleep, some find it a challenge.
Spring and Summer
We all look forward to the longer days of spring and summer with warmer temperatures. That's great when you're up and about, but when it's time to get to sleep, some find it a challenge. Here are a few reasons and tips that might help:
- Try to keep to a regular sleep schedule in order to go with the flow of your natural biological rhythm to help maintain your sleep pattern.
- Hot, humid air is not helpful when you need to get to sleep, so use lightweight bedding, open a window or two, get a fan or make sure your air conditioning is working properly.
- Light nights can keep you awake longer and influence your biological clock. You may therefore benefit from putting dark coverings up over your windows to keep the light out.
- Change the position of your bed so it's away from the window or in a different position where less light falls on your bed and face.
- There tend to be a lot more outdoor activities during the lighter seasons which create added noise - try some earplugs to see if they help you.
- If you suffer from allergies due to pollen, wash your face before bed to get rid of any pollen grains that may be stuck in your hair, eyebrows or eyes. If you think opening a window could make your allergy worse, try a fan instead.
Eating and drinking
The warmer seasons also bring all those warm weather treats that are so loved. Cream teas, strawberries and cream, crunchy salads and ice cream on the beach are all part of summer. Don’t forget it's barbecue season too with ribs, burgers, sausages and grilled halloumi cheese always tempting us. Here are some ideas about eating patterns during the warmer months:
- The essential thing is to try not to eat too late at night. It's tempting to eat later and sometimes outdoors during warmer evenings, particularly when children are on holiday. Try not to make it too late. Give your food a good chance to digest before going to bed, otherwise, you may bring on conditions like heartburn and indigestion.
- Keep an eye on your diet in general during these seasons too. Over-indulging in cream teas and ice cream can lead to weight gain and also trigger heartburn and indigestion. Remember moderation is the key.
- Hot weather can increase the risk of dehydration. Keep up your fluid levels by drinking water, soft still drinks and eating summer fruits and salads like melons, cucumbers and other tasty salad items - all of which can contribute to you staying hydrated. Being dehydrated may cause sleep disruption too!
Autumn and Winter
As the days begin to shorten throughout autumn and into winter, the colder seasons also have their own particular effects on your ability to sleep. This includes your lifestyle and eating habits. So, let's look at some helpful tips for sleeping and eating better:
- Interestingly, not getting enough vitamin D, by not being in the daylight for long enough, is associated with greater daytime drowsiness.
- As with the lighter months, try to keep regular sleep habits.
- It may be tempting to crank up the central heating at home on colder days, but a hot bedroom may result in you lying awake rather than lulling you to sleep. Cooler air supports your natural sleep process since your body's temperature decreases a little when preparing for sleep. It stays lower, and gradually returns before you wake up again.
- Autumn and winter weather can mean heavy rain and high winds, which cause unwanted noise that can keep you awake. Don't put those summer earplugs away; they may be useful all year round.
Eating and drinking
- If you feel like getting to bed earlier in the winter, remember to leave plenty of time for your food to digest before going to bed - the same principle as in the summer. Lying down with a full stomach can bring on heartburn and indigestion, whatever the season.
- It's tempting to eat unhealthy food in the colder months. However, a well-balanced diet is as relevant in autumn and winter as it is at any other time.
- Beware of your calorie intake in the colder seasons. Some people may not be so active during these months and excess winter food can lead to unwanted weight gain. Keep active by swapping summertime walks or jogging in the park with a home-based winter workout instead.
- Although a late night coffee may seem warming, caffeine can be a stimulant - perhaps it's not the best choice for a night-time drink just before trying to sleep.
Heartburn and indigestion at night
We've already seen that eating too close to bedtime can be a risk for heartburn and indigestion. However, it's not just about when you eat before bedtime, but what you eat as well.
You can help prevent night-time heartburn and indigestion by not eating well-known triggers for these conditions. Try to avoid:
- Big meals
- Spicy foods - like curries
- Fatty foods - like burgers, sausages or fried fish and chips
- Alcohol, caffeinated and carbonated drinks
Instead of the types of food listed, try to choose lighter, more easily digested food, such as chicken, rice, pasta dishes or poached eggs. Some people prefer to choose herbal teas or milk-based drinks at night rather than coffee or alcohol.
Article published January 1, 2021