The autumnal months are generally the most supportive of a good night’s sleep. Daybreak tends to coincide with the time we want to rise and it’s already dark when we want to go to bed. Our vitality-boosting vitamin D stores are still stocked up from the summer sun, and the general hum of back-to-school energy tends to keep our activity levels up during the day, leaving us more than ready to drift off at bedtime.
Our previous seasonal recommendations for sleep still hold, but today SOL expert Florence Neville shares how to sleep well in autumn, focusing on a few simple techniques that can make a big difference at this time of year.
The Lungs, Our Emotional Health and Our Ability to Sleep
As Chinese Five Elements theory links autumn with the lungs and the emotions of grief or sadness, taking care of your respiratory system and emotional health can positively impact your sleep, both now and throughout the year.
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers the hours of 3am-5am to be the time of the lungs. Contemporary Western research also shows that asthma symptoms tend to be exacerbated at 4am. As we discussed in our Seasonal Living in Autumn feature, the lungs are thought to help us release that which we no longer need.
An inability to process and then let go of our grief blocks our ability to truly experience connection and joy. Meanwhile, someone with abundant lung energy tends to radiate vitality and a clear sense of self-worth.
How to Sleep Well In Autumn
Here are a few ways to encourage a restful night’s sleep and support great lung energy.
- Keeping the air fresh in your bedroom helps to take some of the pressure off your hard-working lungs. Try to throw open the windows while you shake out your bedding each morning and vacuum regularly, particularly if you have pets that sleep in the room.
- Avoiding toxic air ‘fresheners’ is important too. Try using seasonal essential oil blends in a diffuser to scent a room and support your respiratory system.
- You might also want to consider skipping fabric conditioner on your bedlinen as the fragrances can irritate the lungs and sinuses. Old fashioned lavender bags can be lovely tucked into pillow cases.
- Practising yoga before bed can be enormously beneficial, particularly as it encourages the lungs to relax and release. We’ll be sharing a sequence to support the lungs later this season.
- A delicious way to support your sleep this autumn is to drink a cup of Lizzie’s warming tea each evening. Fennel, cardamom and ginger are all lung supportive herbs and make a wonderful after-dinner digestive tea. Simply steep one teaspoon each of fennel and cardamom seeds and three slices of fresh ginger in hot water for a few minutes.
- A simple, but helpful habit can be to journal each evening just before you sleep. Acknowledging feelings of sadness is vital to the process of letting go. Once you’ve written down why you feel sadness or grief, you may find it helpful to sit quietly for a moment and imagine gathering these reasons in the palms of your hands before blowing them away. Try physically blowing across your hands while you do this, so you also release stale air from your lungs.
- If you’re still awake between the hours of 3am and 5am, you may like to repeat the exercise above. Some people deliberately wake at this time to carry out spiritual or movement practices. While this tends not to fit within most people’s schedules, you may find a short meditation highly effective at this time and that you fall asleep more easily afterwards.
Love Lizzie, Florence and the SOL team xx