Autumn is here and while the change of scenery is absolutely beautiful, are you one of those people constantly feeling sleepy and rather moody? Does dull weather really wears you down?
If yes, then you’re not alone. Many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder that happens every year at the same time. While experts don’t know the exact cause of SAD, some scientists think that certain hormones made deep in the brain trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of year.
Experts believe that SAD may be related to these hormonal changes. One theory is that less sunlight during fall and winter leads to the brain making less serotonin, a chemical linked to brain pathways that regulate mood (source: WebMD).
Dr. Michael Howell, a sleep specialist at the University of Minnesota says the changes in the sunlight are responsible for changes in our body’s natural rhythm. Our bodies have summertime and wintertime clocks that are determined by our exposure to the sunlight.
During autumn, the sun rises later than it used to which means that we get less natural light and we get it later in the day. Will more artificial light in the morning help us feel more alert? The answer is no.
“There’s a special circuit from your eyeball that goes directly to your brain that picks up sunlight, and the most important signal is sunlight in the morning,” he said. “That sunlight in the morning helps wake you up, but helps keep you awake all day long.” (Source: CBS Minnesota)
This time of year also gradually brings colder temperatures that can change our behavior. No one is really eager to work out in the cooler weather and prefers to stay indoors.
This autumn sleepy mood is in most cases only temporary as most people’s bodies will adjust to the changes in sunlight within a few weeks.
To help you fight the “autumn blues” you can try:
- Making your environment sunnier and brighter. Open blinds, trim tree branches that block sunlight or add skylights to your home. Sit closer to bright windows while at home or in the office.
- Get outside. Take a long walk, eat lunch at a nearby park, or simply sit on a bench and soak up the sun. Even on cold or cloudy days, outdoor light can help, especially if you spend some time outside within two hours of getting up in the morning.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise and other types of physical activity help relieve stress and anxiety. Being more fit can make you feel better about yourself, too, which can lift your mood. (Source: Mayo Clinic)