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How lack of daylight can affect our sleeping patterns

sleeping woman

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The winter solstice is only days away, which means the days will start getting longer soon.

Right now, Idahoans only see about eight hours of sunlight each day, which can take a toll on our energy.

“When we have less light during the day due to daylight saving time, we will have more melatonin release earlier and we’ll feel like getting into bed when it’s really like 8:30 instead of 10:30,” said Gus Blad, a family nurse practitioner at the Portneuf Medical Center.

Our circadian clock tells us to go to sleep before bed time.

“Places in like Alaska where you get a lot of dark and you don’t have very many hours of light, that can alter your circadian rhythm because that melatonin’s always going to be releasing and having more of an influence on the body,” Blad said.

Idaho has significantly more sunlight than Alaska, so the effects of short days aren't much. However, many people may still be dealing with the winter blues.

“It’s colder, we all get inside a little bit more and cuddle up in a blanket a little bit more, so we’re not going to release the same endorphins throughout the day,” Blad said.

Staying active and taking advantage of the daylight we hav can help keep energy flowing, Blad said.

While the darkness may be making us drowsy, it's still important to practice good sleeping habits.

“You want to have a dark room. You want to have a cooler room. You want to have less noise. If you need to have some ambient noise, that’s fine. But the same good sleep hygiene is necessary with lots of light during the day or even lots of darkness during the day,” Blad said.

Emma Iannacone

Emma is a reporter for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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