Insomnia increases when seasons change. Most notable, spring and summer seasons initiate sleeplessness because the days grow longer and light exposure increases. The circadian rhythm regulates the body clock by exposure to light. In essence, light blocks secretion of melatonin, a hormone helpful to sleep, so restricting your exposure to bright light early in the morning and later in the evening may help with seasonal insomnia.

The light factor

Sleep is regulated by exposure to light or to darkness. When light stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to an area in the brain called the hypothalamus, it signals the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This special center signals the brain to release hormones to control body temperature and other functions that make one feel sleepy or wide awake. The SCN acts as an alarm to alerts the body of regulated patterns and norms. For example, at dawn or the first sign of light, the SCN begins to perform functions to stimulate hormones like cortisol, associated with the awakening response in the morning. On the other hand, SCN delays the release of hormones like melatonin, which is associated with sleepiness when it becomes dark. In both cases, exposure to light is an important factor.

The natural touch

Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland, located just above the center of the brain. Inactive during the day, the pineal gland activates when the sun goes down and darkness occurs. At this time, usually around 9:00 pm, melatonin is produced and released into the blood. When this happens, the body feels less alert and sleep is welcome. Melatonin levels elevate for about 12 hours, then eventually drop back to barely noticeable levels by morning, around 9:00 am. The pineal gland will not produce melatonin unless the person is in a dimly lit or dark environment. In addition to sunlight, artificial indoor lighting can be bright enough to prevent the release of melatonin. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 73% of Americans say a dark bedroom is important to a good night’s sleep.

The sleep solution

Sleep is a necessary but not always a convenience where light is concerned. Modifications to the sleep environment can include light blocking curtains or shades to eliminate morning sunlight or block bright street lights at night. Remove or turn off all electronic devices which should include televisions, computers, and phones. For more recommendations and solutions on a better sleep, use MobileSleepDoc Pro , a convenient way to research, record, and remedy sleep issues.

Sleep is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle in every season. Like exercise and good nutrition, one must train and prepare to optimize sleep opportunities to accommodate every season. If you are curious about your seasonal sleep statistics, monitor them with The Plex™ Sleep Scanner, a device to measure, record, and report critical data about your sleep patterns and behaviors; learn more at Somnology.

Resources:
https://sleep.org/articles/changing-sleep-needs-2/
https://www.beautyrest.com/Blog/Articles/surprising-science-behind-changing-seasons-sleep
https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/507411 insomnia in springtime
https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/melatonin-and-sleep
https://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/cortisol-levels-change-throughout-day/

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