NorthShore’s online source for timely health and wellness news, inspiring patient stories and tips to lead a healthy life.
This time of the year can be a hard adjustment for some – moving out of the warm, sunny summer months into colder, darker days with occasionally a chance of snow. Seasonal depression, anxiety and feeling more tired than usual are all common symptoms some people experience during the change of seasons. Also, this time of year is Daylight Savings Time, which can feel like a “double whammy” if you’re already feeling down because of the weather.
As winter approaches, it gets darker sooner, which can throw off people’s circadian rhythms that moderate our sleep and are affected by light. “Typically it is easier for people to ‘fall back’ than ‘spring forward’ as we are gaining an extra hour of sleep. However, that doesn’t mean that the end of daylight savings time is harmless and we should take measures to help ease the change. It can take a week or more for the body to adjust,” says Dr. Camelia Musleh, MD, Neurology, Sleep Medicine.
Here are some of her other suggestions on how to feel good during the seasonal change, according to Dr. Musleh: How can you feel good as the days get darker?
Things to do before bed:
For those living with depression or other mood disorders, the time change can cause a sense of dread – symbolically marking the start of the dark season. This is when Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can set in. This disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression, commonly occurring in the fall and winter. The classical characteristics of recurrent winter depression include oversleeping, daytime fatigue, carbohydrate craving and weight gain. Other symptoms of SAD include decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, a lack of interest in normal hobbies and activities and decreased socialization with others.There are ways to combat SAD though: