Does the weather effect your sleep?


Do you sleep better in winter or autumn then you do in summer? Ever wondered why that is?  Surprisingly, very few decent studies have been carried out on this phenomena, and none have been conclusive, apart from to confirm that we sleep worse in winter than we do in summer.

We have all heard of circadian rhythms, but do you know that these mysterious goings-on are very sensitive to light and temperature? This is partly why some people can mentally set a clock in their head unconsciously and wake up at 4AM every day. When we try to change this, we may feel as though we are living in another time zone, sometimes for a short while, sometimes forever.

In autumn and winter, we tend to head to bed earlier. In summer, we may tell ourselves a great deal of half-truths and lies about why we do,  but we will go to bed later. It is a proven fact. Our internal clocks are simply geared to take as much benefit from the light as possible. This has been passed down since Man first existed. Besides that, ancient Man believed he was safe in the light and from the  many dangers that roamed at night. He also liked to be concealed or in a high place at night, which is maybe why so many fragments of skeletons are found in caves.

The big apes also shared this with us. In the wild, some apes will make a nest every day, but some will even climb a tree to be off the ground to sleep. A child sleeping in a low bed is more likely to climb out of bed to go into Mum and Dad’s higher bed. So how high the bed is does affect us too.

With sleeping in the cold, Stages Two and Four of sleep do not seem to be affected much. However, REM ( Rapid Eye Movement) where we dream changes. It is reduced, and, as this is the time when we benefit the most from sleep, things go pear-shaped for a bit.  Studies have shown though, that,   after a few days, this phase will pass, and normal sleep will be restored, probably because the natural body thermometer tries hard to adjust.

In older days, nurses who were on night shift were sent to a room which was dark, and set up to mimic a cosy  bedroom at night. Covers were placed over the windows, allowing some air in, but blocking the sunlight. The nurses functioned reasonably well with this system, and had little problem sleeping when they returned to their day shifts.

Of course, bedclothes and your bed are part of sleeping too. If you have a hard mattress, you may be very tired and it may be summer or winter, but you will not rest well. Your body will attempt to fit into its natural shape, only to find itself poked and prodded or simply pushed into an unnatural shape. Thus you will have a disturbed night and you will feel tired and grumpy the next morning. Too soft and you may have the same problem, plus it being harder to haul yourself out of bed.

Having too many blankets adds too much weight to your body. A good thick doona and an extra blanket, plus a quilt  should be all you need, unless you live in a very very cold area. In summer, a cotton sheet or one of natural material is best. Look on http://www.bigbedding.com.au  to check out different types of bedding and beds and ask advice for your area.



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