3 Ways Changing Seasons Meddle With Your Health and How Float Therapy Helps.
Tips for Fall Wellness
The romanticized version of fall often brings to mind things like apple picking, football, cozy sweaters, pumpkin-spice-everything, and a welcome return to routine as we trade in bright summer days for chilly tailgates and color tours. But, in reality, many people feel the mental and physical effects of the seasonal transition with less sunlight and dropping temps, making them want to hibernate under the duvet until spring.
The changing seasons can be delightful and energizing but can also mess with your health. As it turns out, we're not so different from the bears. While our call to hibernate happens to a lesser degree, it's a genuine response to natural rhythms, mental health challenges, and a call to our immunity to kick into a higher gear. Knowing what to expect and how to prepare will help to keep you in a state of well-being to embrace sweater weather.
You’re internally wired to respond to the cycles of daylight. When the sun is up, your body thinks it’s time to be up and alert; when it’s dark, your body slows down for rest. This can be a problem with 16-plus hours of low light in the coming months. Throw in a daylight-savings time change, and it’s a recipe that wreaks havoc on your circadian rhythms, otherwise known as your natural sleep cycle. So while it’s tempting to hunker down and get some extra zzzs, this can worsen things.
According to sleep researcher Dr. Rebecca Robbins, optimal sleep hygiene means keeping a regular sleep schedule no matter what time of year. As co-author of Sleep for Success! Everything You Must Know About Sleep but Are Too Tired to Ask, Dr. Robbins conducts “research on the small changes we can make tonight to drastically improve our productivity, our efficiency, and our health.”
Her top recommendations include maintaining the same bedtime and rise time and getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Mayo Clinic agrees, listing a sleep schedule at the top of their tips for better sleep. The good news is that more darkness and cooler temps lend to ideal sleeping conditions, maybe a little too good sometimes. Try to skip sleeping until brunch on the weekends!
Studies have shown that float therapy induces brain waves similar to those present during sleep, leading to better quality sleep at night. They also show that the benefits of floating can last for weeks or months and much longer with ongoing float sessions.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can creep up anytime and often begins as soon as access to Vitamin D plummets. Thanks to fewer hours of sunlight needed for your body to get enough of what’s known as the “sunshine vitamin,” your Vitamin D levels will likely be low. It may help to increase your Vitamin D intake through diet and supplements, along with the guidance of a health professional. (Lack of Vitamin D is associated with various ailments from bloating to low immunity and much more.)
Activities that have a mood-boosting effect include:
- Exercise for a dose of serotonin, aka the “feel good” chemical.
- Getting outside, even if it’s cold–time in nature is linked to emotional well-being.
- Meditation or mindfulness practice, bonus points if you do it a float tank for the added benefits of taming cortisol production and removing distractions.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying seasonal flavors, and pumpkin is known to be highly antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties. Still, if you’re slinging back pumpkin spice lattes and other indulgent treats, you’ll want to keep those in moderation. The reason? Sugar. Sugar will disrupt the benefits of good nutrition faster than you can order a grande PSL, which packs an inflammatory, sleep-wrecking 50 grams of sugar. That’s twice the recommended daily limit.
With flu season on the way, maintaining a top-notch immune system will keep you at the top of your game. According to the multi-specialty academic medical center, the Cleveland Clinic, “To keep your immune system healthy, get plenty of sleep, stay active, eat healthy foods, keep your weight under control, reduce your stress and follow other healthful habits.”
In addition to supporting quality sleep and improved mood, floating also does wonders for the immune system. In this entertaining and informative 2018 Float Conference presentation, immune researcher M.C. Flux breaks downs exactly how visits to the float tank affect the body on a cellular and molecular level. His studies show that with float therapy, the more relaxed floaters felt, the stronger the ant-inflammatory and the immune-strengthening response they had. This was demonstrated by testing IL-10 in their blood, an anti-inflammatory cytokine that maintains the balance of the immune response. It also feels fantastic.
By maintaining your healthy habits and being mindful of what extras your mind and body need, you’ll be able to embrace all there is to love about the fall, including the occasional dose of pumpkin spice.
Book your immune-boosting float here.