Tips for Combating Fall Sleep Issues

Dr. Craig Hudson, MD | November 16, 2017


Although less common, the start of fall or autumn can mark the beginning of days, weeks or months of struggling with insomnia or poor quality sleep. Our simple solutions for fall insomnia will help you get back to catching z’s in no time!

Shorter Days and Longer Nights

The start of fall means shorter days and longer nights, and this shift in daylight hours can trip up your body clock. From September to November, you may notice you have trouble staying awake during the day, waking up in the morning and falling asleep at night. You may even find yourself experiencing a temporary bout of hypersomnia, where you feel as though you aren’t getting enough sleep, even though you’ve had plenty of sleep!

How to Beat It

The most effective way to get your body clock back on track is to get as much sun exposure as you can, as soon as you wake up. Aim for at least 20 – 30 minutes of sunlight to gain the most benefits. Alternatively, you could also use a light therapy lamp if going outside is not an option. Light therapy boxes and lamps can also be helpful in treating SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or anxiety triggered by darker days.

Fall Allergies and Raking Leaves

Most people think of spring as allergy season, but many people who have seasonal allergies also tend to experience symptoms in the fall. Much like a cold, allergies can keep you up at night, struggling to breathe. Freshly released pollen from ragweed is usually the culprit. Activities like cleaning gutters or raking leaves can exasperate allergies since they involve disturbing the mulch and kick up the pollen into the air.

How to Beat It

Over-the-counter allergy medication can be of some help. It is also recommended that you pass off outdoor chores to someone else, or wear a mask while raking leaves or clearing out dead plants during the fall months.

Going Back to Work/School

Are your summer months filled with late nights and sleeping in? You are not alone! Summer is vacation season for most adults and kids. Fall is usually when we all return to work or school, but the transition isn’t usually as smooth as we would like. Grogginess and trouble falling asleep are common struggles.

How to Beat It

Give yourself a regular bedtime and a wake-up time. Move your alarm clock across your bedroom if you have to. What is important here is consistency. Come the weekend, resist the urge to stay up past your bedtime. The odd Saturday night, here and there, won’t make too much of a difference, but don’t expect to feel as fresh as a daisy if you are spending from Friday to Sunday staying up late and sleeping in.

Lowering Humidity and Cooler Evenings

If you have been thinking of upgrading your humidifier, fall is the time to do it! The seasonal change from summer to fall is characterized by an influx of cool and dry air. It can be very difficult to sleep comfortably in a dry environment, not to mention painful and damaging for your skin and nasal passages.

How to Beat It

Reintroduce moisture into the air in your bedroom with a humidifier. Remember to refill and replace the water regularly to avoid mold growth. Also, make sure you are staying hydrated. We tend to feel less thirsty when the weather cools off, but we still need hydrating throughout the day to avoid drying out.

Were these tips helpful? Let us know in the comments below. And while you’re here, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more great tips on getting a goodnight’s sleep!