‘Tis the season to dress up! Dress up like animals, dress up like different people, it’s your choice this Halloween.
Just do not forget that as humans we are all driven by the light cycle. Less daylight leads to more inside activities. Some of us are more affected by the seasonal switch to darkness than others. Our bodies are set by this clock. Or more specifically, as winter approaches, your pineal gland produces serotonin and melatonin, which regulates your sleep cycles. The production of melatonin by the pineal gland is stimulated by darkness and inhibited by light. Photosensitive cells in the retina detect light and directly signal the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), entraining its rhythm to the 24-hour cycle in nature.
Chronobiology is a field of biology that examines periodic (cyclic) phenomena in living organisms and their adaptation to solar and lunar-related rhythms. These cycles are known as biological rhythms. The variations of the timing and duration of biological activity in living organisms occur for many essential biological processes. These occur in animal processes such as eating, sleeping, mating, hibernation, migration, and cellular regeneration. In humans, we can be morning people or evening people; these variations are called a chronotype.
Rene Descartes believed the pineal gland to be the “principal seat of the soul,” and viewed it as the third eye.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summertime sadness, or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer.
Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder. SAD’s prevalence in the U.S. ranges from 1.4% in Florida to 9.9% in Alaska (the further from the equator the worse it gets).
The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up as the light returns in spring. Most people with SAD experience major depressive disorder, but as many as 20% may have a bipolar disorder. It is important to discriminate between diagnoses because there are important treatment differences. In these cases, people with the pattern may experience a major depression or bipolar disorder during the late fall to early spring.
What can you do if you’re experiencing SAD?
- Maximize your existing light, i.e. trim brush away from windows and keep curtains open.
- Make plans to play in the snow or bundle up and get outside for a walk.
- The usual stuff like getting good sleep and exercise.
- Vitamin D is a great help.
- An SAD light with at least 1000 lumens of light can really turn things around.
- Don’t forget to make it to the chiropractor to make sure your body is working at peak efficiency.
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