World Sleep Day

How Does Gloomy Weather Affect our Sleep Cycle? 

How to ensure you get a good night’s sleep…

March 15 is World Sleep Day, and to help raise awareness and share the importance of a good night’s sleep, we catch up with sleep expert, Max Kirsten.

Spring is around the corner and while we’re hoping to look forward to brighter days ahead, the gloominess of grey skies continue to linger.

With that in mind, this World Sleep Day, we’re looking into how the gloomy weather can affect our sleep quality.

“Gloomy weather, characterised by overcast skies, reduced sunlight, and darker conditions, can have various effects on our sleep cycle. Some potential impacts can include disruption of circadian rhythm, melatonin production, mood and sleep quality, and temperature and comfort. The miserable weather can also reduce the desire for physical activity and encourage overuse of indoor lighting,” says Max.

Sleep

Disruption of Circadian Rhythm

Sunlight exposure helps regulate our circadian rhythm, the internal biological clock that governs the sleep-wake cycle. Gloomy weather with limited sunlight
exposure may disrupt this natural rhythm, potentially leading to difficulty falling asleep or waking up at the desired times.

Melatonin Production

Exposure to natural light, especially in the morning, helps regulate the production of melatonin, a hormone that plays a crucial role in sleep-wake cycles. Reduced sunlight during miserable days may result in lower melatonin production, affecting the body’s ability to signal when it’s time to sleep.

Mood and Sleep Quality

Gloomy weather can contribute to a more sombre mood, and individuals may experience feelings of lethargy or sadness, commonly known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). These mood changes can impact sleep quality and may contribute to conditions like insomnia or oversleeping.

Temperature and Comfort

Overcast days often brings cooler temperatures. Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can affect sleep quality by making it uncomfortable to sleep. People may find it challenging to get restful sleep if they are too cold or too warm.

Reduced Physical Activity

Inclement weather may discourage outdoor activities and exercise, which can have a direct impact on sleep. Regular physical activity promotes better sleep, and a lack of exercise may contribute to sleep disturbances.

Increased Indoor Lighting

With gloomy weather, people may rely more on artificial lighting indoors. Exposure to bright artificial light, especially in the evening, can interfere with the body’s natural production of melatonin and disrupt the sleep-wake cycle.

“To mitigate the potential negative effects of gloomy weather on sleep, individuals can consider incorporating strategies such as increasing exposure to natural light, spending more time outdoors during daylight hours, especially in the morning. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is crucial. I can’t stress enough how important it is to bed and wake up at the same time each day to help regulate the circadian rhythm,” Max explains.

“Ensuring a comfortable sleep environment is also just as important. Adjust your room temperature, use blackout curtains, and minimise artificial light in the bedroom to create a conducive sleep environment. Engaging in regular physical activity will hugely benefit your sleep. Even if outdoor activities are limited, finding indoor exercises can help improve sleep quality.

“Individual responses to weather conditions can vary, and some people may be more sensitive to changes in light and weather than others. If sleep disturbances persist, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice and guidance,” adds Max.

Getting a good night’s sleep is often overlooked when it comes to ways of improving our health. Sleeping well is crucial for our health and wellbeing. It’s when our bodies repair, recharge, and process memories. Good sleep keeps our minds sharp, mood balanced, and immune system strong.

Use this World Sleep Day to sit back and reflect on your bedtime routine…

Max Kirsten is the resident sleep expert for Panda London.