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Do You Need More Sleep in Winter?

Although many people end up waking later and retiring earlier during the cold, dark months, thereís no real biological need for getting extra sleep during the winter. Thereís more variation in sleep needs among individuals than there is in a single individual between seasons. That is, some people naturally need more sleep than others need in order to function optimally, and that number doesnít change with the seasons.

Even though our body clock is triggered by light and dark, our sleep needs donít correspond exactly with the length of the days. Think about it: in Scandinavian countries where there may be only a few hours of light per day in the winter, people donít suddenly need eighteen or twenty hours of sleep per night. Likewise, in the summer when there are only a few hours of darkness, people arenít suddenly able to get by on only two or three hours.

The imbalance of light and dark is a prime culprit in the development of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a wintertime malaise characterized by fatigue, depression, and weight gain. Sound familiar? Itís no coincidence that treatment for SAD commonly includes light therapy to reset and regulate the bodyís circadian rhythms.

The Takeaway
If youíre already getting your optimum amount of sleep, you donít need extra just because itís winter. But if you regularly donít get enough, feel free to fight the freeze by staying snug in your bed as long as possible.

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4:03PM PDT on Jul 27, 2012


5:03PM PDT on May 18, 2011

I live in Florida, and I can never sleep even in the winter. It's just not possible, but I know when I lived in Ohio I never wanted to get up. It's much better just to stay under the covers than to go outside in the freezing cold.

2:11PM PST on Jan 26, 2011

Winter is the perfect time to hibernate and catch up on rest =)

11:25PM PST on Jan 23, 2011


5:10AM PST on Jan 11, 2011

I try to have a regular sleeping time and sleep for about 7 hours.

2:25AM PST on Jan 11, 2011

I have the worst time getting up in the morning at the moment, don't seem to be able to get up before the sun rises. Though is the summer I'll wake up a 5am with no trouble :-S

10:14AM PST on Jan 9, 2011

I belive also that boddy ache is more in the winter and make some sleep more !

11:44AM PST on Jan 4, 2011

so good to stay in bed every morning in winter...

11:02AM PST on Dec 28, 2010

Thank you.

3:18AM PST on Dec 28, 2010

That explains a lot. Though for me, I can't tolerate being in bed that long because it kills my back. Now add in the fact that I can't sleep more than 4-6 hours w/o my back screaming at me, and now the weather is causing more melatonin.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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