Understanding Winter Sleep Patterns: Insights from Research

2 Mins read


Are humans inclined to hibernate during the colder seasons? Recent research sheds light on this question and explores the factors influencing our sleep patterns during winter.


  1. Seasonal Sleep Trends:
    Feeling the need for extra sleep during winter is a common experience, with research indicating that about a third of American adults sleep more during this season. Dr. Raj Dasgupta, an associate professor of clinical medicine, notes that while adult sleep needs remain consistent at seven to nine hours per night, external factors such as reduced daylight can influence our perception of sleep duration.
  2. Human Sleep vs. Animal Sleep:
    Contrary to previous beliefs, a study conducted in February 2023 at St. Hedwig Hospital in Berlin discovered that human sleep is indeed affected by seasonality. Participants in the study slept approximately an hour longer in winter, experiencing an additional 30 minutes of REM sleep, the phase crucial for memory, concentration, mood regulation, and immune function.
  3. Influence of Light on Sleep:
    The circadian rhythm, regulated by sunlight cues, plays a pivotal role in our sleep-wake cycles. Dr. Carleara Weiss explains that increased melatonin production during winter may naturally lead to a heightened need for sleep. Dr. Joshua Tal emphasizes that light not only affects sleep quantity but also influences the quality, with REM sleep being particularly responsive to light conditions.
  4. Behavioral Factors:
    “Social jet lag” and behavioral changes contribute to the desire for more sleep during winter. Late-night summer activities may disrupt sleep patterns, leading to difficulties falling asleep in winter. Additionally, factors such as holiday stress, dietary indulgence, alcohol consumption, and reduced physical activity can impact sleep.
  5. Adjusting to Winter:
    While humans don’t hibernate, adjustments can enhance well-being during winter. Dr. Carleara Weiss suggests that slight increases in sleep duration may align with the seasonal shifts in light. Dr. Joshua Tal proposes adjusting work or school schedules to accommodate the natural circadian rhythms, and maintaining consistent sleep-wake times is essential for a smoother transition.
  6. Light Exposure and Therapy:
    Ensuring exposure to morning light during winter months helps regulate circadian rhythms. For those with limited access to natural light, light therapy, involving exposure to a light box with at least 10,000 lux for 30 minutes, can be beneficial. Dr. Jennifer Martin underscores the importance of creating a conducive sleep environment and seeking professional help for seasonal depression.


While humans may not hibernate like some animals, seasonal changes can impact our sleep patterns. Understanding these influences and making lifestyle adjustments can contribute to better sleep quality and overall well-being during the winter months.

Related posts

Uncovering Rare Cases of Possible Alzheimer's Transmission Linked to Discontinued Medical Treatment

2 Mins read
A recent study published in the journal Nature Medicine has revealed a potential connection between early-onset dementia symptoms in five adults and…

Study Estimates Almost 65,000 Pregnancies Resulting from Sexual Assault in States with Abortion Restrictions

2 Mins read
Almost 65,000 pregnancies resulting from sexual assault are estimated to have occurred in states where abortion is prohibited, according to a recent…

American Lung Association Urges White House to Swiftly Act on Menthol Cigarette Ban to Save Lives

2 Mins read
The American Lung Association is intensifying its efforts to compel the White House to promptly enact regulations banning the sale of menthol…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *