Do you feel sluggish and lazy during the winter months? A recent study may offer some consolation, revealing that humans require more sleep during colder months. According to the research, published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, people experience 30 minutes longer REM (rapid eye movement) sleep during the winter, which is directly linked to the circadian clock and affected by changing light. Cactus: A New Threat to Biodiversity Due to Global Warming
More REM Sleep During Winter
The study examined 292 patients who had undergone sleep studies called polysomnography, wherein they were asked to sleep naturally in a special laboratory without an alarm clock to monitor the quality, type, and length of sleep. After excluding those taking sleep-affecting medications, technical errors, and those who might have skipped the first REM stage, the study focused on 188 patients. The findings suggest that people experience longer REM sleep during colder months, even in urban areas where sleep is often disrupted.
“Running-on-Empty” in Winter
The author of the study, Dr Dieter Kunz, emphasized that humans don’t hibernate, but our physiology is down-regulated during the winter. “Seasonality is ubiquitous in any living being on this planet. Even though we still perform unchanged over the winter, human physiology is down-regulated, with a sensation of ‘running-on-empty’ in February or March,” Kunz explained. Therefore, adjusting our sleep patterns during winter, including the length and timing of the season and working schedules, could be beneficial.
Adjusting Sleep Habits
If the study’s findings can be replicated in a healthy lifestyle, researchers believe that people can adjust their sleep habits to better suit the colder months. For instance, going to bed earlier could be helpful. So, if you feel lazy during winter or your friends accuse you of being so, remember that it may just be your body’s natural response to the season.