Every winter as the cold sets in and the clouds roll across the sky bringing the first snowflakes of the year many people find themselves hitting the snooze button on their alarm clocks more and more frequently. They just don’t feel like they got the rest they needed to take on the day. What is it about winter that makes people feel like they need more sleep?
One reason is our biological clocks. Our ancestors of the cave-dwelling years and beyond had to reserve their energy during the winter for sheer survival. Food was scarce and if you were wandering around making snow angels you were expending energy that you didn’t have to expend. Lots of sleep kept the small amount of energy they had at their disposal so their bodies could stay warm and function properly should the need to use it in the face of danger arise. We feel like we need to sleep more in the winter because it is ingrained into our bodies as a necessity of survival.
Another reason people feel like they need more sleep in the winter is the weather. Its cold, its dark, its damp, and you really don’t want to get up and go outside anyway. So your body, knowing this, tells you to just stay in bed where its warm. If you stay in bed, your body knows it won’t have to go out and face these harsh conditions. Once again you hit the snooze button.
Something most people overlook when wondering why they feel they need more sleep in the winter is the fact that with all the plant life around your neighborhood being dead or at least hibernating is depressing, even if only on a sub-conscious level. Trees without leaves, wilted flowers and such remind us of death. Its something we all try not to think about but every year old man winter comes around to remind us that it happens to us all. The holidays are nice, sure, but overall winter is a very depressing time of year. If you know or have known anyone with depression then you know that one of the most common symptoms is that of feeling tired all the time. Feeling the need for a little extra shut-eye might just be the result of being slightly depressed.
It might not be that we really need more sleep in the wintertime, but we want it. We are lucky enough in present day society to have all the resources in winter that we do in the summer for the most part, so its not like we are staving off starvation by sleeping in. People just want to get away from all those harsh weather conditions and representations of our end that winter brings into focus. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you hit that snooze button too often (you’re going to be late for work!).