Feeling restless?  Sleeping less?  Looking longingly out of the window?  You may have spring fever, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a lazy or restless feeling often associated with the onset of spring.”  While you may not have an actual fever, the arrival of spring does alter our production of certain hormones, including melatonin.  The change in available light affects the body’s production of melatonin, often called the vampire hormone – the hormone is only released at night.

The seasonal change can trigger both sleep benefits and sleep challenges.

Warmer Days. It’s great to be outside again!  Our physical activity tends to be less in winter when it’s colder and darker, so the start of a warmer season gets us back outside and moving.

  • Pros:  Studies show that getting regular exercise helps with better sleep.  And you don’t have to run miles to see the benefit.  Take a simple walk, spend time cultivating a garden, stop and pull those weeds between the house and the mailbox.  If you are curious about the side benefit of burning calories in addition to getting better sleep, CalorieLab has several charts that let you know – weeding for just 15 minutes can burn 60 calories.
  • Cons: All that extra activity can result in sore muscles and body pain that can keep you awake.  Try a hot bath or shower before bed to relax those muscles.

Longer Days.  Let the sun shine!  We “spring ahead” to provide more light at the onset of spring.gardening

  • Pros:  Longer days with more light make us feel happy; exposure to sunlight increases serotonin levels in the brain.  The gloominess and shorter days that accompany winter can cause mood changes like seasonal affective disorder that typically disappear with the longer, light filled days.s to the longer days. 
  • Cons:  It can be difficult to adjust our body clocks to the longer days.  There is research to suggest that we never actually make a true circadian shift, and that night owls have a much more difficult time than larks!

Greener Days.  Springtime signals big changes in plant life.  Flowers bud and bloom, trees start the process of getting leaves.

  • Pros:  It’s easy – who doesn’t love to see the new growth of trees and flowers?
  • Cons:  Those flowers and budding trees may come with a price: seasonal allergies that can affect your sleep.  Check the pollen count in your area.  When pollen count is high, make sure you wash your hands and avoid touching your nose and eyes when you come in from outside.  It’s a good idea to leave your shoes at the door to help you prevent spreading those allergens throughout the house – they can settle in the carpet and aggravate you as much or more on the inside as on the outside.