I am like many people. I am arrive to work in the dark and I return home in the dark. This is magnified by occupying an office with no windows, followed by coaching figure skating in an arena with no windows. In the past few years I have noticed that I have responded to the lack of daylight in one or all of three ways; I get lethargic, I am tired and I gain weight.
While, on the subject of daylight hours I thought I might do some calculating. I want to know how many sunlight hours am I actually missing out on? Ticker, ticker…computing. “What?” I am flabbergasted to see that from beginning November to Mid-March when we have time change I am only seeing about an hour of sunlight per day, Monday-Friday. No wonder I can’t get going my body is still thinking that it is sleeping.
How many hours of daylight are you getting? Why is it important?
It seems that light that hits our retina send messages to the hypothalamus (the part of the brain responsible for sleep, appetite, sex drive, mood and activity. When there is not enough light these functions tend to slow down and/or gradually stop. Melatonin levels are also affected by natural light and affect our urge to sleep. These changes in the brain can result in symptoms that include tiredness, lethargy, intense carbohydrates craving, social withdrawal and depressed mood. In extreme cases individuals can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder during this time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a seasonal depression where people with normal mental health throughout the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer months.
Although I understand that prolonged darkness is part in parcel to being a Canuck but come on, Monday’s are already bad enough- am I right?
Perhaps the schools have had it right all along. Maybe we should be scheduling break time that is broken in to two parts: indoor snack time and outdoor fun time. I am trying to make some lifestyle changes that encourage me to be outside in the daylight for longer periods of time like: taking a periodic walks around the school and embracing outdoor winter activities.
My brother-in-law has turned to technology to help cope with his lethargy. He is using a sunrise alarm clock sort-of-thing. This clock is a special light that slowly brightens in the morning, thereby waking you up like a sunrise. Another thing I have read about is phototherapy or light therapy. This is where an individual sit in front of a specialized light of a period of time.
Whatever your choice it is important to not let Old Man Winter lock you inside and make efforts to get outside and soak up the sun.