As daylight hours become shorter and the darkness of the fall and winter months seem to go on forever, you may notice that your sleep habits change. And you may be asking yourself, why?
The decrease in the amount of daylight in the autumn and winter months influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle* . If you are feeling sluggish or more tired than usual, this might explain why.
Light impacts the secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland. Melatonin regulates the sleep-wake cycle also known as the circadian rhythm.* A decrease in light exposure causes an increase in melatonin production, which results in a feeling of sluggishness or being tired . We don’t necessarily need more sleep during the winter months, we just feel more tired due to an increase in circulating melatonin in the body from a lack of exposure to light.
3 Tips to Help Regulate Your Sleep-Wake Cycle*
- Keep your sleep and wake times the same even though the daylight hours have changed. Being consistent with your sleep schedule can help regulate your circadian rhythm making it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up the next morning .
- Spend at least 30 minutes outside during the day. Outdoor light is more intense than indoor lighting and helps promote wakefulness during the day .
- One hour before bed, dim the lights and avoid the use of screens (television, tablets, or cell phones). Limiting your exposure to light will signal to your body that you are getting ready to sleep and your pineal gland will start to produce melatonin helping you to fall asleep.
If you are still having trouble, a natural sleep aid may help support your sleep patterns during this transition. See Natural Factors line of sleep solutions to find one that is right for you.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
 Friborg, Oddgeir, et al. “Associations Between Seasonal Variations in Day Length (Photoperiod), Sleep Timing, Sleep Quality and Mood: A Comparison Between Ghana (5°) and Norway (69°).” Journal of Sleep Research. 21.2 (2012): 176-84. Print.
 The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Melatonin.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
 National Sleep Foundation. “How to Get on a Sleep Schedule.” Sleep.org. National Sleep Foundation, 2015. Web. 3 November 2015.
 Mercola, Joseph, and Dan Pardi. “How the Cycle of Light and Darkness Affect your Health and Well-being.” Mercola.com. Dr. Mercola, 2014. Web. 3 November 2015.