Days get shorter during the winter months, especially in northern states, Dr. Unfortunately, reduced sun exposure can dramatically affect your circadian rhythm, causing your body to produce more melatonin (a, k, a. for many, the dark and cold winter months are a time to catch up with the dream. According to a recent survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), 34% of American adults report that they sleep more in winter, compared to 10% who sleep less than usual.
This is almost an investment compared to the brightest and busiest months of summer, during which 36% of respondents said they sleep less than usual, while 9% sleep more. She is currently Vice President of Marketing and Operations and enjoys the opportunity to educate and engage with those looking to improve their health through better sleep. Of course, there are other factors, such as exposure to artificial light from electronic devices during the night, that can alter these natural hormonal rhythms (read more about how light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep here). Also known as the “circadian rhythm”, this “clock” is controlled by a brain region known as the hypothalamus, and alternates between drowsiness and alertness at regular intervals.
A lower light intensity means it's time to sleep, which sends a signal to the brain that it needs to start preparing the body for sleep. So what can you do to avoid daytime sleepiness in winter and improve sleep quality? Working on those two factors, light and temperature, can make a big difference. Potentially, they can refer you to a sleep expert or suggest effective strategies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, the gold standard for helping you sleep better. Below, sleep experts explain why this happens, the potential benefits, and how to maximize sleep quality in the colder months.
Dasgupta strongly recommends having a fixed time for sleeping and getting up if you really want to feel rested and enjoy the benefits of sleep. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Changing seasons can alter the balance of the body's melatonin level, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood. Changes in sunrise and sunset times can have an effect on melatonin levels and when you start to feel sleepy at night. Seasonal change is also an excellent reminder to commit to talking to a medical provider about any ongoing sleep problems.
For the record, getting more sleep is usually better, unless you spend more than 10 hours a night on a regular basis. If you're tempted to curl up and hit the snooze button once more, remember that sleeping too much isn't good for you, even if your environment invites you to do so. And make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleeping: clean up the clutter, have comfortable, warm bedding, and turn off the TV. The best part is, while you may want to get more sleep in winter, it's actually harder to get a consistent good night's sleep.