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Do you struggle to fall asleep at night? Has insomnia become a regular part of life for you? Are you looking for ways to get some quality shut-eye? If so, then a recent study by the University of Washington may finally give you the answer to a good night’s sleep.

Not getting enough sleep can have many negative consequences, including impaired cognitive function, decreased brain development, learning problems, and a weakened immune system. Additionally, not getting enough sleep can also lead to daytime drowsiness, decreased alertness, poor concentration, irritability, and mood swings.

The usual recommendations when it comes to falling asleep:

  • Improve your sleep environment
  • Create a bedtime routine
  • Avoid Caffeine and Nicotine
  • Don’t drink alcohol before going to bed
  • Don’t eat too close to bedtime
  • Get regular exercise
  • Manage stress levels
  • Practice relaxation and meditation techniques
  • Consult a doctor for a medical reason
  • Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Keep a sleep diary
  • Look into supplements that may help

All of these recommendations for better sleep may help but a new study from the University of Washington puts a spotlight on another surprising reason for not being able to fall asleep.

The research measured the sleep patterns of students at the University of Washington and found that they tended to go to bed later in the evening and wake up later in the morning during winter, when daylight hours on the UW’s Seattle campus are limited and the skies are overcast.

The team behind this study believes it has an explanation: The data showed that in winter students received less light exposure during the day. Other research has indicated that getting insufficient light during the day leads to problems at night when it’s time for bed. Senior author Horacio de la Iglesia, a UW professor of biology, explains that “our bodies have a natural circadian clock that tells us when to go to sleep at night. If you do not get enough exposure to light during the day when the sun is out, that ‘delays’ your clock and pushes back the onset of sleep at night.”

The study used wrist monitors to measure sleep patterns and light exposure for 507 UW undergraduate students from 2015 to 2018. The data indicated that students were getting roughly the same amount of sleep each night regardless of season,

[Dec 12, 2022: James Urton, University of Washington]

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