Seasonal Sleep Patterns

If you’ve noticed that it’s harder to get up in the morning during winter, then you’re not alone. The reason for this is that the human sleep pattern actually fluctuates throughout the year. Whilst we don’t hibernate or migrate, there are many reasons for these feelings, from a change in diet to less sunlight and physical activity.

TEMPUR takes a look at how our sleep pattern changes throughout the year and how we can work to ensure we’re fully energised 

Human sleep patterns

Prior to the 1920’s there was little knowledge on sleep, however, advances in science have enabled us to identify two main types of sleep: rapid-eye-movement (REM) and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM). During the average person’s sleep, they experience a cycle that moves between NREM and REM – a regular cycle lasting between 70 and 100 minutes. There are several factors that can alter your sleep cycle and sleep patterns, seasonal changes being one of the biggest contributors.

Different sleep patterns

So, what are the different sleep patterns? The most common pattern is the ‘Monophasic sleep pattern’ which refers to a one-sleep-per-day pattern. This pattern can be considered the most efficient as it coincides with the average person’s day-to-day life.

The ‘Biphasic’ pattern is where two sleeps occur per day, one in the night and a short sleep during the day. Whilst countries such as the UK and the US don’t exploit this pattern, countries such as Spain factor in a mid-day rest, known as a siesta. Research suggests that there are various benefits of a short rest period after lunch, such as reduced stress and improved alertness.

Whilst both patterns are logical and effective, there is an idea that more niche patterns also work well, such as an ‘Everyman’ pattern, which incorporates one longer sleep and around three shorter naps per day, each sleep no longer than three hours.

Examples of similar sleep patterns include the ‘Uberman’ and ‘Dymaxion’. Although these patterns can be viewed as an efficient way of renewing the body and mind, they equally can be viewed as somewhat impractical and difficult to fit into the average schedule.

Seasonal changes

 The normal sleep pattern is aligned with the day/night cycle; however, individuals should seek to find a pattern that helps refuel their bodies and energy levels, particularly during seasonal transition periods.

Changes in the season can have a major impact on our sleep and energy levels. As the weather gets colder and night falls sooner, we become susceptible to feeling more tired and sluggish, largely due to a lack of vitamin D and the changes in melatonin levels in our bodies. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the Pineal gland located within the centre of the brain, and when the sun goes down melatonin levels rise abruptly, causing a lethargic feeling. This should be taken into consideration when managing sleeping patterns and energy levels. Find out how you can help balance melatonin and vitamin D levels during the winter months from our tips below.

How to get more energy during the winter months

Finding ways to boost your energy and stop yourself from feeling tired all the time during the winter season is essential. Follow these three simple tips to help improve your energy and combat the seasonal changes to your sleep pattern.

Get a good night’s sleep

One of the most effective ways to improve your energy is by simply getting a good night’s rest. The average adult should aim for eight hours of sleep a night, but given the hectic life of most adults, this can be easier said than done.

Therefore, try making the effort to get into bed early by creating a bedtime routine – bedtime routines should not be exclusive to kids! Perhaps take a take a bath, light some candles and have an hour of relaxation before getting into the sheets. Make your bed a place you look forward to with a mattress that meets your needs and bedding that feels like a hug.

Change your diet

Often, we don’t take into consideration the impact that certain foods and drinks have on our body and ultimately the effects they can have on our energy levels.

Try incorporating more fruit and veg into your diet, it’s the perfect time! Seasonal vegetables such as carrots, parsnips and sprouts are all easy to find in your local supermarket, easy to cook and high in all the right nutrients you need to make it through the winter.

Top tip: To boost Vitamin D levels, eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, as well as plenty of eggs. Or for a simpler option try Vitamin D dietary supplements, after consulting your doctor.

Take more time for yourself

Yes, put down the laptop, tablet or phone, stop reading the emails, drop the kids off at a relative or friends for the night and do something for you. As the days are shorter you may feel like you have less time to get things done, and therefore feel more stressed. So, whether you’re a book reader, a jogger or prefer catching up with old friends to unwind, this tip will help increase your energy and put a smile on your face.

Do you find your sleep patterns change over the year? Do you have any tips for sleeping better during the colder months? Let us know in the comments below…






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