Our short warm spell for fall has come and gone, and these past few mornings could be described as "chilly". I know it has been significantly harder for me to pull myself out of bed as of late. It's just so warm and cozy under the covers, plus I hate to disturb my dog at the foot of the bed getting his beauty sleep.

If you have been having a harder time waking up and getting out of bed lately, the weather actually does have a lot to do with it. A team of neurobioligists at the Northwestern University did a study on fruit flies to prove this. In this study they found a thermometer circuit can transfer information about cold temps from the fruit flies antennas right to the brain.

What does that mean for humans though and how does it affect our morning routines?

Rhythms of activity and sleep are controlled by a bigger network, including a group of brain neurons. The target cells, that are normally activated by morning lights, are shut down by the brain neurons when they discover the active motion of cold circuits.

So the cells that wake us up from morning light get shut down when they are told by other cells that it is cold outside. And even without checking the forecast on our smartphones, all good Minnesotans know in the back of our mind that it's cold in the morning this time of year. That instinct is embedded in us, and apparently keeping us in bed.

So the next time someone asks why you slept in so late, blame science.

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Fall Leaves at Saint Cloud State University


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