Can The Changing Seasons Trigger Insomnia?
It is thought that about one in three people in the UK suffer from insomnia. This is defined as the inability to get to sleep, waking up for long stretches during the night, and waking up too early or feeling tired. If the problem becomes chronic, it can be disruptive to many aspects of, including work, relationships, and hobbies.
Some people can survive very well with just a few hours sleep every night, but most people need between six and nine hours. Chronic shortage of sleep can leave us feeling tired and groggy during the daytime, and may affect our concentration at work.
It can also ruin our social lives, making us too tired to see friends and family in the evenings, or withdrawn and irritable. It may reduce our desire to exercise, or pursue the activities which would normally contribute to our overall wellbeing and quality of life.
This can be particularly apparent in autumn, when we are naturally more inclined to curl up on the settee with Netflix, rather than make the effort to get out and stay physically active. Lack of exercise only compounds sleep issues further, as we don’t feel physically tired enough for a full night’s rest.
Some people find the changing seasons, such as when the clocks go back at the end of October, disrupts their sleep cycle. While most people can adjust well enough to a change of losing or gaining an hour, some people have very sensitive internal body clocks, and struggle to adjust.
In some cases, the anxiety that builds up around not being able to make the adjustment can be just as much to blame for sleeplessness as the actual change in hour. Unfortunately, the more we try to control our sleep, the more difficulty we tend to have getting to sleep, or staying asleep.
So, what steps can we take to avoid any seasonal disruption to our sleep patterns? It’s important to remember that an hour really isn’t a big deal. Maybe think of a time you took a holiday to France or Spain, and had no problems adjusting to the new time zone.
You could also ease yourself into the change gradually, by going to bed 10 minutes later (or earlier, if it is spring when the clocks are going forwards), for a week or so before the actual change to daylight saving hours. Then when the clocks do change, you will have already made the adjustment.
There are plenty of other techniques that people use to help them to sleep, including having a nightly wind down routine. This involves avoiding doing work or strenuous physical activity an hour or two before bed, and avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and heavy meals.
Some people find that meditation routines, such as mindfulness, can help them learn how to let go of the worries of the day and slowly drift off to a more relaxed state. It trains the mind to focus on the present moment, rather than skipping anxiously ahead or ruminating on the past.
If you are interested in learning about mindfulness therapy in London, please get in touch today.