On November 1, we gained an hour as most of us turned our clocks back an hour to mark the end of Daylight Savings Time. Except thos happy people in Arizona and other regions of the country that refuse to go along with this nonsense. But for those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression linked to inadequate exposure to sunlight during the winter months, that extra hour of darkness coupled with decreasing daylight is not so welcome in my case.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, as many as 18 million Americans suffer from SAD, with millions more exhibiting symptoms. Sufferers may experience depression, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia or weight gain. These symptoms are often intensified by colder weather and the stress of the holiday season. People in northern latitudes, where winter days are shorter, are more susceptible to SAD, as are people on the western edges of time zones, where it is dark later into the morning than it is on the eastern edge of the same time zone.
How do I combat SAD? Here are tried and proven steps I have taken the last few years to help me get through the eleven and a half months of winter that we experience here in The Tundra:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule
- Get outside early & often throughout the day, especially when the sun is brightest. This can be tough when it is cold outside, but I find that if I get out for an early run or walk my day noticeable brightens.
- Vitamin-D supplements. Read more at my earlier blog entry speaking to supplements
- Use a full-spectrum light box. Exposure to bright natural light is best, but sitting for 30 to 90 minutes a day in front of full-spectrum lights can be effective.
For a full sprectrum light box, I use a NatureBright SunTouch Plus Light and Ion Therapy Lamp. Its 10,000-lux light therapy and negative ion therapy bathes you in Sky Effect light while simultaneously releasing healthy negative ions into the atmosphere. And we know all about those negative ions from my blog entries on the Trion:Z bracelets.
I set this light in front of my wind-trainer. For up to an hour (you can set the light for by 15 minute increments up to one hour), I am taking in light. And it does help. It looks like this in front of my bike.
So if you suffer from SAD, try these methods. Most importantly, will yourself to keep moving. You'll feel refreshed and happier. It's not going to change the fact that you still live in a miserable, frozen wasteland. But at least you'll be able to take on the day with ebullient vitality and energy.