As much as we hate to say it: summer is over. Sure, by the calendar it’s still officially summer, but the long, lazy weekends by the pool, the vacation weeks, the sun and sand…it’s just past its prime for the year. If you’re a die-hard summer person, you may be a little sad to see it go, but we actually have some good news. In terms of sleep, autumn is one of the best seasons to catch some ZZZZs. Don’t believe us? There is actually quite a bit of scientific research that proves our natural sleep patterns change according to seasons. Because we are on the cusp of fall, we’re going to discuss the good and the bad when it comes to sleep in September, October, November, early December.
Autumn: The Good
Researchers and sleep specialists agree that autumn is the season most conducive to good sleep for a number of reasons. For one, temperatures are typically lower. The extreme heat of the summer forces us to either crank up with air conditioning or muddle through each night with a fan. Once the nighttime temperatures reach into the 50s and 60s, the bedroom becomes cooler (but not cold) naturally. Light is also a major contributor to healthy sleep in the fall. Prior to the winter equinox, days are still quite long, meaning that there is enough natural light during the day to ward off the symptoms of Season Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder that often leads to depression and insomnia. That being said, the days begin to shorten, offering the best of both worlds: light for mood but dark for melatonin production. Allergy sufferers also tend to experience fewer problems as a whole during the fall months. The pollen counts of spring and summer lessen. As harvest season comes to an end, there are also fewer allergens to affect those who are sensitive. In terms of overall sleepiness, autumn ushers in a strange phenomena: most of us just feel sleepier. While it’s probably a combination of coming out of a busy summer and entering into a period of time in which days slowly shorten, it’s a point in the year where it seems oddly human nature to want to sleep.
Autumn: The Bad
In spite of everything good related to sleep and the fall, autumn can often vary widely in terms of temperature, allergens, light, and weather. Especially with global warming figured into the equation, the traditional fall months are trending toward summerlike temperatures. What was once termed “Indian Summer” is now commonplace (and brutally hot) despite what the calendar says. With a target bedroom temperature somewhere between 65 and 72 degrees, it can be difficult to create the perfect sleeping environment without air conditioning and/or fans. In many parts of the country, some allergens do rear their ugly heads particularly during the autumn. Ragweed can be extremely bothersome to those who are sensitive, as can mold since it often becomes airborne. If it’s cool enough to sleep with the windows open, some may find that ragweed and mold cause too much congestion upon waking.
Autumn: Tips for Great Sleep
Especially if you are new to geographical location, you may not know what to expect when fall arrives. Sleep specialists seem to all agree that airing out the house and the bedroom specifically can help create a calming mindset as soon as temperature cooperate. Many seem to suggest, too, getting out for a walk in the early evening to soak up natural light before bed. Mentally, this clears the head and helps one appreciate the beauty of the season. Physically, getting out before settling in for the night helps the body absorb that vital natural light and provides some aerobic activity. And, of course, if allergies or SAD plague, it’s important to find and work with your physician for great days and great nights.
Red-rimmed eyes, tissues strategically tucked in every pocket, a nose that puts Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer to shame…it’s
spring allergy season. Most of us enjoyed a warmer-than-usual winter but we’re paying the price now with ultra-high pollen and mold spores in the atmosphere. Of course we all know there is no shortage of allergy medications on the market but they only alleviate the symptoms. You still wake up with the telltale signs–puffy eyes, purple under-eye circles and skin ruddiness. Let’s be honest, we all want to look better than we feel at times like these.
When it comes to allergy season beauty, the approach is three-pronged: prevent, treat and correct. Sound difficult? Never fear…we’re here to offer up easy tips and tricks to downplay the allergy/sinus look while you await fall (or the first freeze).
Step 1: Prevent
There are easy steps to prevent allergens, and many of these steps begin in the bedroom. Simply vacuuming your mattress and your carpeting is a perfect first line of defense against pollen spores. Washing your sheets regularly also helps to rid trapped allergens. If you’re still waking up puffy, sleep on two pillows instead of one. The slight elevation will help fluids drain from your face, meaning you’ll wake up less puffy.
Step 2: Treat
Allergy medication has come a long way in terms of treating symptoms with very few side effects (like medicine head). Talk to your doctor about allergy medications. As for treating the effects of allergies, moisturizing your face is vital. The friction created by using a tissue so often creates red, dry, painful chafing. Use a gentle oil-free (and preferably fragrance-free) moisturizer all over your face, then dab something extra emollient like Aquafor on irritated skin. Since lips also become chapped, Eos lip balms are excellent for both treating and preventing irritation. Red, itchy eyes can also be alleviated with an inexpensive over-the-counter eye drop. And do not forget to drink water. It helps to flush your body, ultimately keeping you hydrated one the inside and out.
Step 3: Correct
Despite all your best attempts to prevent and treat them, signs of allergies may still show themselves, especially in terms of beauty. For most men, this step is more difficult because it does require some camouflage by way of make-up but cosmetic products are very effective. While you might think those yellow concealers at the store look scary, they actually make a lot of sense. Yellow counteracts red, so a light application of a yellow cream or powder can actually neutralize that red nose. If eyes are red but not itchy or tearing, a nude-colored eyeliner can brighten eyes and conceal the telltale signs of allergies (skip this step if your eyes are watering or if you find yourself touching them often). Don’t do a full-on contoured eye, even if you’re headed to the office. Opt for a beige wash across the lid and a slightly shimmery (not glittery) shadow on the browbone. This visually opens your eye, making you look more awake and lifted. As for actual color cosmetics, choose nude or pink-ish tones. A pale pink or even coppery-pink shade of blush and lipstick can help enliven your face. For men, a lightly tinted moisturizer can be beneficial. Many of the latest forms of these moisturizers go on sheer, meaning men (and women) won’t have to worry about looking “made up.”