A new survey reveals that nearly half of Americans experience significant changes in sleep patterns and mental well-being due to seasonal variations, with many willing to sacrifice daily conveniences for better sleep.
The poll of 2,000 US adults revealed that 48% feel tired earlier, and 41% go to bed earlier in the evening when the sun sets earlier in the day. Nearly four in five (78%) claimed they can even tell when their circadian rhythm—defined as physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle—isn’t where it normally should be.
Commissioned by Mattress Firm and conducted by OnePoll, the survey showed six in 10 sleep routines typically feel different during the winter than in other seasons. A quarter of people have the most difficulty waking up during the winter, more so than any other season.
Over half (56%) swear their personalities change with the seasons, as do 49% who claim their daily habits change. While spring was found most likely to make people feel happy (58%), summer causes people to feel curious (29%) and content (27%) with themselves.
By contrast, people said they feel especially tired (21%) or sad (20%) in the winter. In exchange for better sleep, the poll found 45% would be willing to give up the internet for a full 365 days, while others would give up their phone (43%), their car (41%), and promotions at work (37%).
As for autumn, the survey found the cooler season was a catalyst of personality change for many—leaving people feeling angry (20%) and sad (18%). During the holiday season, respondents reported that they were more likely to cancel plans with friends to stay in bed (48%), sleep (40%), and drink alcohol (37%).
“It’s truly remarkable how keenly attuned we are to the impact of circadian rhythm disruptions, particularly when they stem from the change in seasons and length of daylight,” says Jade Wu, PhD, sleep advisor at Mattress Firm, in a release. “Our bodies’ acute awareness of these changes serves as a reminder of the intricate connection between our internal clocks and the external environment.”
In the winter months, 57% of respondents recall having experienced “winter blues”—the feeling of despair or general upset caused by winter. Four in 10 respondents have been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). And while 45% said they haven’t been diagnosed with SAD, 53% of them still believe they have the disorder.
Winter was found to cause respondents feelings of apathy (32%), general discontent (32%), loneliness (29%), mood swings (28%), and loss of interest (26%). And when sleeping, many find themselves burying under blankets (49%), sleeping for a shorter period of time (48%) or tossing and turning (48%).
“Winter often comes with a gloomy feeling because it’s a prolonged lull in daytime activity levels, which can also make your nights less restful,” says Wu in the release. “One of the best things you can do for your body is to get active during the day and give it a relaxing environment for sleep.”
The random double-opt-in survey was commissioned from Sept 26-29.