It happens every year in the spring: someone writes in to The Savvy Insomniac complaining of an inexplicable onset of insomnia. No stress is involved, no abrupt change in circumstances.
If you find yourself experiencing insomnia at about this time every year, the problem may have to do with lengthening days. The solution may lie in reducing your exposure to sunlight.
Some people have trouble sleeping when the days get shorter. I’m one of them and so is Gabriel, who recently wrote in wondering how to improve his sleep:
“I was born close to the equator in Brazil, and I usually don’t have problems sleeping when I’m there or during the summer time in Canada, where I live now. But winter is around the corner, and my sleeping problems have just begun again. I usually go to bed at 11 p.m. but wake up around 3 a.m. However, in the summer my wake time is 7 a.m. I feel irritated, depressed and cannot concentrate. . . Is light treatment the way to go?”
If there’s a seasonal pattern to your insomnia, reduced light exposure could be the culprit. People in northerly latitudes are exposed to little daylight in the winter, and this can have a negative effect on circadian rhythms and worsen sleep.