Seasonal Change May Trigger Sleep Problems
It’s imperceptible at first, but before you know it, you’ll really start to notice that it’s getting dark earlier and earlier in the evening. Golden autumn afternoons, fall foliage and cooler temperatures are a welcome change for most people after a long hot summer, but the change in seasons could also lead to sleep problems and other behavioral troubles for adults, teens and children.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects an estimated six percent of the population. The condition is brought on by a lack of sunlight. A person with SAD can experience unexplained fatigue as daylight hours grow shorter into the fall and winter months. Other symptoms could include increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, and craving carbohydrates and sugary foods, so-called “comfort foods.”
Individuals who believe they have SAD should consult their physician, but there are steps that families can take on their own to encourage healthy sleep patterns as the seasons change, including:
- Make seasonal adjustments, if necessary, but set regular sleeping and waking times and stick with the schedule, even on weekends
- Get plenty of exercise outdoors, to maximize exposure to daylight
- Ensure your home sleeping environment and bedding are clean and appropriate to the season
- Eat a well-balanced diet with sufficient vitamins and minerals