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Nancy's Almanac, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2013: Winter conditions can affect sleep patterns

Nancy's Almanac, Nov. 30-Dec. 2, 2013: Winter conditions can affect sleep patterns

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A good night's sleep is priceless.

Each season poses its challenges. Summer, for example, brings allergies.

Winter's problems can be multiple: Our circadian rhythms are even more out of sync with our busy lives, our bedrooms can be too hot or cold, and holiday temptations work against us.

AccuWeather, The World-Herald's weather consultant, took a look recently at how winter affects sleep.

As days become shorter, the onset of dark cues our bodies to fall asleep sooner than during the summer.

Because our busy lives keep us up, our bedtime becomes a little more out of sync with an optimal sleep schedule. Thus, short days and long nights can contribute to a poorer night's sleep than one would think.

The bedroom temperature and humidity not only affects sleep but also can affect your overall health. Rooms should be cool, but not cold or overly warm.

Warm, dry rooms can dry out our body's mucus membranes, which can make you more susceptible to illnesses such as the cold or flu, according to AccuWeather. That's because mucus provides a protective coating and, as it dries, the body has less defense against bacteria and viruses

Eating heavy holiday meals, consuming lots of sugar and alcohol and trying to recover with caffeine all work against a good night's sleep. Holiday demands can disrupt exercise routines and exercise is crucial for a good night's sleep.

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