Winter solstice impacts sleep patterns

ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- The lack of daylight on the shortest day of the year doesn't always equate to a better night's sleep.

Dr. Yaser Zeater, Pulmonologist at SwedishAmerican, says the dramatic decrease in the amount of daylight leading up to December 21st can throw off our circadian rhythm, or internal clock, making it more difficult for us to fall asleep at night.

Dr. Zeater recommends that we take advantage of whatever daylight Mother Nature provides by getting outside and spending time in the sun. Increasing our exposure to sunlight will help regulate our circadian rhythm. If it's too cold to get outside, artificial daylight lamps sold in many retail stores are also quite effective.

The stress of the holidays can also cause major disruptions to our sleep. Dr. Zeater says that watching TV or checking our cell phones before bed can also make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. If we experience difficulty shutting down our mind at night, we can try flexing our muscles in our arms and legs, one side at a time as a way to wind down before falling asleep.