It looks as if the warmer weather is finally coming to an end, and Autumn is here. With the change of the seasons a lot of people often find it hard to sleep. Not only is there a change in temperature, but many people find they do not cope well with the shorter hours of daylight over the Winter months.
Darker days can make you more lethargic in the day, but often less able to sleep at night. In fact, Seasonal Affective Disorder has been named as a variation of depression that affects people during the winter months. Referred to as SAD, it can affect up to 6% of the population and manifests as unexplained fatigue during the Autumn and Winter months. You would think fatigue would mean we sleep more, but often someone suffering with SAD finds it hard to get any sleep at all.
Even if you’re not suffering with something as severe as SAD, many of us find that the darker evenings and lack of sunshine can make us all feel a little rubbish from time to time. If you’re prone to insomnia then the slightest change in the weather can mean you’re back to square one, counting sheep and staring at that crack in the ceiling.
So what can you do to help ensure you get a decent night’s sleep? First and foremost, try to get outside in the fresh air and daylight once a day. Even if it’s pouring with rain or freezing cold, just going for a short walk and feeling the sunlight on your face can make a massive difference. Try to maintain a routine where you go to bed and get up at the same time every day – even if you’re feeling rubbish and think you deserve a nice long lie in, we both know that sleeping until lunchtime will only cause a problem when you come to go to bed tonight!
Take a look at your diet. You might feel like eating chocolate for every meal, but in the long term that will do you no favours. Try to still get a varied diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. You might not feel like it, but it will help you to keep moving, and then to sleep at night.
Be kind to yourself. I know as well as anyone that once you start panicking about not sleeping, there’s not much chance of you actually going to sleep! If you find you’re having trouble dropping off, don’t lay there calculating how many hours you have before alarm goes off! Get up, make yourself a warm drink, maybe read a book or sit quietly and focus on your breath for a while.
I’ve written a lot on here about how everything is linked to our breath. I truly believe that if we can ensure our breath is not laboured or shallow, great things can happen. Life is all about balance, and ensuring you’re feeling centred in the world can really help to dispel any residual stress left in your body. This is why I love meditation so much – it’s like spring cleaning for the mind, and a fantastic reliever of stress.