Deanna Pledge, Ph.D.

Bloom Where You're Planted!










Blooming Blog

Fall Nights

October 7, 2016

Tags: time change, seasonal affective disorder, sleep schedules, energy levels, coping

Have you noticed a difference in the amount of daylight you are seeing?

Sadly, the nights are coming earlier. It is that time of year, and many people struggle with some degree of SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, with the longer nights. This phenomenon is very much a byproduct of where you live. People near the equator rarely report the winter “blues.”

Our melatonin levels are affected by the change in the daily cycle of sunlight, which can mean that you may not be sleeping as well. In addition, the change in exposure to daily sunlight can negatively impact mood. Some people feel more lethargic and have trouble getting motivating during this time of year. Coupled with the change in sleep habits, the fall and winter months can feel confining.

But there are things you can do to help you through this time of year. Try arranging your schedule so that you can enjoy the sunlight earlier in the day. Getting outside also helps with this process of feeling a bit more energized. Perhaps you can squeeze in a walk during lunch if you are unable to rearrange your day to get up for your daily dose of sunshine early in the morning.

Also, try to make sure you are getting enough sleep. With the disruption of melatonin levels, the “sleep hormone,” it can be difficult to get enough sleep. Sleep hygienists recommend going to bed and getting up as close to the same time each day as possible. If you can’t fall asleep, get up and do something boring to help you fall asleep. But stay away from the “blue light” from your screens and electronic devices. Studies suggest that this type of light fools your brain into believing that it is time to be awake instead of asleep. Experts recommend putting your electronics away an hour before bedtime to avoid this obstacle to a good night’s sleep.

A few simple tweaks to your schedule can help you adjust to this seasonal change and feel well rested and ready to meet the demands of your day.