Maybe I should have been a Black Bear so I could hibernate in the winter.
You don’t usually hear me complain in my blogs, but I need to be honest with you. I don’t like the winter. I don’t like the cold and I don’t like the shorter days.
I am not able to sleep in because my sweet cat wakes me early. She is used to her morning routine of wet cat food, and she does not care that it is still dark out. Between 5:30 and 6:00am she is rubbing on my face to wake me up.
Actually, that is good, because morning is my time to read some of the books that authors who will be on Hey, Boomer sent to me. I do enjoy that, curled up on my couch with a cup of coffee, learning from the wisdom of my guests.
But I also had planned to go to the gym for an hour. I woke up and looked at the temperature and it was 28 degrees outside. I know – all I have to do is get in my car, drive to the gym, park and then walk across the parking lot. I know! But the idea of heading out in the cold and the dark demotivates me. So instead, I am writing this blog to you.
Are you listening? Do you feel this way in the winter? Is this what they call Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? The website veryhealthy.life defines SAD as a condition “that causes people to feel overly tired, emotionally drained, and even potentially depressed during the darker winter months.” The lack of sunlight messes with our circadian rhythm, which means we want to sleep longer but we are forcing ourselves to get up. It may be my cat that is forcing me to get up, but I find that I am “forcing” myself through the day to accomplish all that I have on my list. This also limits my time in the sun. I don’t want to go for a walk because it is cold, and I have work I want to get done, resulting in another day of less sunlight.
I looked up some of the suggestions for adjusting to SAD. Compared information I found at veryhealthy.life and the Mayo Clinic. Here is what I found.
- A daylight lamp with a daylight alarm. You set it and it slowly gets brighter to simulate the sunrise, so you are nudged into wakefulness. Apparently, the sunrise will stimulate your brain to produce cortisol, which is the hormone that works counter to melatonin, signaling you that it is time to wake up.
- Get more fresh air and exercise. I know this is important and even all bundled up, it still exposes us to sunlight … and fresh air. Being cooped up indoors all day doing whatever it is that we do, is not good for our bodies or our souls. Exercise and fresh air help to relieve stress and anxiety, both of which can increase SAD symptoms.
- Better sleep. The suggestion here is to avoid screens at night. TV, computer screens and phones stimulate our brains. Getting restorative sleep will help us feel better during the day. Try to give yourself an hour without screens before falling asleep. I generally try to read for a little while before falling asleep. I find myself fading pretty quickly when I do that. The Mayo Clinic also suggests reducing napping and oversleeping so that your body will get into a routine of restorative sleep at night.
- Vitamin D. This vitamin is naturally produced in our bodies from sunlight. Studies of how Vitamin D affect SAD have had mixed results. “People who live in climates where it gets darker earlier are at risk of not getting enough vitamin D without supplementing, but vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it is possible to supplement too much and reach toxic levels,” researchers said. “The best way to approach vitamin D is to have your level checked and then talk to a health care provider about the best plan for you.” I am on a prescribed Vitamin D supplement because my levels were low, according to my last physical.
I was born and raised in Miami, FL. Even when the days got shorter, it was not cold enough to keep us indoors all day. As I moved up the East Coast, to my surprise I found that I was adversely affected by the winter weather – the cold, the winds, the dark. I cannot imagine living in a far northern climate. I suppose some of us are more susceptible to the changing light and temperature than others.
I will try to bundle up later and go out for a walk. I know it would be good for me.
And soon it will be spring, and I will rejoice in the new buds on the trees and bushes and the flowers beginning to emerge from their sleep. I love the spring!