Fall is already there and you can now feel many of its effects on your different stages of sleep. The temperature decreases, trees are losing their leaves and there is less and less sunlight every day. This change in the length of daylight has an important impact on the sleep phases for some of us.
Did you know that daylight is mostly responsible for the sleeping process, or at least to initiate the drowsiness phase?
Every day, our internal biological clock is directed by light that structures the different stages of sleep. This inner clock, located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the brain, receive signals from the retina that captures the presence or absence of light in the environment. It is obvious then that a change in the amount of time you’re exposed to sunlight will affect the quantity of sleep you’ll later have.
Our night is divided into 5 stages of sleep. Let’s explore them and learn some tricks on how to remain asleep.
The 5 Stages of Sleep
Stage one is the phase where you slowly drift off. It is one of the stages of sleep characterized by the fact that you can easily be awakened and because your eyes move slowly. It is in this phase that the body starts to relax and so, many sleepers may end up experiencing muscle contractions and the sensation of falling.
During stage two, your eyes stop moving and your brain waves slow down. It’s in this phase that your body prepares for deep sleep and your temperature and heartbeat drops. You are less likely to be awakened but since it is not yet deep sleep, it is one of the sleep phases where you could still be awakened, should your environment be disturbed.
Deep sleep, here I come! Stage three is the stage in the sleep cycle where the brain creates extremely slow waves called delta waves, which are interspersed with smaller, faster waves. If you’ve heard someone talking or walking in their sleep, or if you yourself have experienced nightmares, it is during that phase that they occurred. Scientists have determined that these tend to happen during the transition between non-REM and REM sleep. REM is the acronym for the rapid eye movement stages of sleep.
You’re still far off into dreamland in stage four as your brain mainly produces delta waves. If you manage to be awakened in that phase, you’ll likely feel really disoriented and it might take you 10-15 seconds to realize you were asleep.
Stage five is one of the REM stages of sleep. It is in that phase that you dream the most since it is your waking stage. The brain activity increases, which leads your eyes to move rapidly from side to side, causing you to dream.
Tricks to Fall and Stay Asleep
To avoid any disbalance in your various stages of sleep, also know as the circadian cycle, here are some little tips that will allow you to enjoy fall without feeling tired because of a lack of sleep.
- Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day to help the brain regulate the internal clock and to ensure the stability of the circadian cycle;
- Avoiding all electronic devices that have a screen before going to sleep, they possess diodes (LED) which stimulate the brain the same way as daylight would do it and thus affect your early stages of sleep;
- Enjoy as much sun as you can outside, especially during the morning. You’ll get exposed to sunlight and that will help balance your sleep cycle. Taking a walk outside or drinking a coffee next to a big window that let the sunlight passes through are good ways to do it as well;
- Check the temperature of the room when it’s time to go to sleep. You should always sleep in a place where the temperature is around 18-20°;
- Sleep the right amount of time you need during the night, which is 6 to 8 hours for an adult;
The decrease of sunlight that occurs in fall doesn’t only have impacts on sleep. It also affects moods and can even lead to a seasonal depression in certain cases. It is important to not underestimate the consequences of a season switch. To fully enjoy fall, you have to get the best sleep so you can get enough energy to plan a lot of autumn activities.