The alarm goes off, you open your eyes, it’s pitch black outside and you question whether you really do need a job! The temptation to turn over and go back to sleep is one that haunts the majority of us over the winter months. It’s so much easier to get out of bed during the summer months when the sun is streaming in through the window and the birds are already up singing!
Well, did you know that our circadian rhythm, which is what works to regulate our body clock, is maintained by exposure to light? So, during winter, when we don’t get as many hours of daylight some of us find ourselves needing an extra hour or two of sleep to feel awake and be able to effectively function.
Though we are able to switch on the bedside lamp or turn on the bedroom light when we wake up and it’s still dark outside, the darkness does still have an effect on our mood. In fact, it affects us so much, that around 90% of people suffer from mood and energy level changes during winter. Some of us can get that bad that we find we suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which is a form of clinical depression altered by the different seasons of the year.
However, it is important to keep in mind that too much sleep is actually bad for us and can itself cause strong feelings of tiredness and lethargy. So, no matter what the season, we should be aiming to achieve no more than 7 to 9 hours sleep each night; those of us used to getting 7 hours may find we need to an extra hour or so to feel fully refreshed. If you find you are still tired off 9 hours sleep it may be best to speak to your GP about sleep disorders, however, if you are tired due to the winter months a few changes can often help prevent this such as regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet including plenty of water!