Sleep – sleeping – illustrative photo.
London – Unflattering remarks about people who struggle to get out of bed in winter may be misplaced, according to scientists. New research suggests that although people don't hibernate in the cold months, they may need more sleep and should adapt their habits to this time of year, The Guardian wrote.
An analysis of people who took part in a sleep study showed that in winter they seem to experience longer stretches of the so-called REM stage of sleep, which is rich in dreams, by about 30 minutes. This phase, which is also characterized by rapid eye movements, is directly related to the circadian clock, which is affected by the change in light.
According to the researchers, the total sleep time in winter was about an hour longer than in summer, but they did not consider this result to be statistically significant.
Even in the urban population, where sleep quality is assumed to be lower, people experience a longer REM phase in winter than in summer. However, in the coldest months of the year, people also do not sleep as deeply as, for example, in autumn, the research also showed.
If the results of the study could be replicated in people with a healthy sleep cycle, it would provide the first evidence of the need to adapt sleep patterns. seasonal habits. For example, by going to bed a little earlier in the colder and darker months.
“Seasonality is ubiquitous in all living things on this planet. Although we perform unchanged through the winter, human physiology slows down in February or March and one feels like they are 'running on empty,'” said study co-author Dieter Kunz. “In general, societies need to adapt sleep habits, including the length and timing of sleep, to the season, or adapt school and work schedules to seasonal needs,” he added.
During the REM phase, brain activity increases, people can have dreams and it repeats itself several times a night. The sleep cycle has four stages that repeat four to six times in humans during the night.
The researchers acknowledge that the results of their study would need to be verified in people without sleep problems, but seasonal changes, they say, in a healthy population they can be even bigger.
The team of scientists examined 292 people who underwent sleep studies called polysomnography. These are regularly performed on patients who have difficulty sleeping. They are asked to sleep naturally in a special laboratory without an alarm clock, and the quality and type of sleep as well as its duration can be monitored. After excluding people taking sleep-inducing drugs, technical errors, and those who may have missed the first phase of REM, 188 patients remained in the new study.