You Need More Sleep in the Winter

While humans don’t hibernate in winter, we experience longer rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in winter than summer and less deep sleep in autumn, according to researchers at the Clinic of Sleep and Chronomedicine at the St. Hedwig Hospital, Berlin.

What to Know

  • Our body clocks are set by the sun, and the changing length of days and degree of light exposure over the course of the year could affect the duration and quality of our sleep.

  • The patients in the study were in an urban environment in which there was less exposure to natural light and high light pollution, which should affect seasonality regulated by light. The investigators found subtle but striking changes across the seasons.

  • During the study, total sleep time was about an hour longer in the winter than the summer, and periods of REM sleep were 30 minutes longer in the winter than in the summer.

  • REM sleep is known to be directly linked to the circadian clock, which is affected by changing light.

  • Seasonality is experienced by every living being on this planet. Over the winter, human physiology is downregulated, and there is a sensation of “running on empty” in February or March.

This is a summary of the article, “Seasonality of Human Sleep: Polysomnographic Data of a Neuropsychiatric Sleep Clinic,” published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience on February 17, 2023. The full article can be found on

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