8 Signs Your Mood & Energy Change with the Seasons
Have you ever wondered what type of impact the change in seasons has on you? Maybe you've suspected that your mood and energy change a bit after summer, but never given it too much thought. These 8 signs will help.
Most people don't realize that bright light is essential to our well-being just like water, air and food. Our bodies use bright, full spectrum light to regulate many of their functions. Much different from regular indoor lighting, bright light (like that from the sun) regulates our mood, sleep and energy levels. So when the temperature starts to cool and the sun's path drops lower in the sky, our bodies take notice - often before we do.
As the sun's intensity lessens, our body sends signals to let us know that it's not getting its normal dose of light. Like flowers that bloom and wilt depending on the light of the sun, we, too, feel its effects.
Maybe you have even noticed changes in yourself as the seasons switch, but not made the connection to light before. If so, these signs will be helpful for you identify how light (or lack thereof) may be affecting your life during the change of seasons.
People who are highly sensitive to light notice these signals as soon as the summer solstice occurs and daylight starts decreasing. For others, the signals can be subtler and occur later in the fall or winter. Being aware of these 8 signs before your body notices the seasons changing can help you counteract the more negative symptoms of winter blues, seasonal depression, and light deprivation later on.
Sign #1 - You're getting outside as much as you can
You may begin to notice that everything sounds better outside as the sunlight available to your body lessens. Lunch outdoors, meetings outdoors, and afternoon strolls outdoors all gain appeal as your body begins to crave additional light. Of course, in many parts of the country, colder temperatures eventually prevent this mid-day galavanting in the sun. But for now, you may feel the urge to get it while you can.
Sign #2 - You notice that you're craving carbohydrates more
Sunlight triggers the production of serotonin (a.k.a. "The Happiness Hormone"), and that's why feel happy and content on a beautiful sunny day. When the bright light of the sun becomes less available to us, our body compensates in other ways - and the one of the easiest ways is by chowing down on serotonin triggering foods high in carbohydrates. Unfortunately, a lot of carbohydrates - and particularly, simple carbohydrates - aren't great for our overall health.
Sign #3 - You're obsessed with opening the shades in your house
Have you noticed that when you walk into a room lately it just feels so much darker than it did just a few short weeks ago? That's because immediately after the summer solstice we start losing a substantial amount of light.
In September, Alaska loses 7 minutes of light a day. That's almost a full hour of sunlight a week! Other northern states like Vermont lose 3 minutes every day - not as much as Alaska, but still over 20 minutes a week. People in Florida report feeling symptoms of seasonal change, so clearly the human body is capable of registering even small changes in light intake.
Sign #4 - You're consuming more coffee (and sugar) than usual
One of the effects of serotonin is enhanced energy. If you're not getting as much bright light in your day as you were just a few weeks ago, that may be the reason you find yourself reaching for a second... or third... cup of coffee. If you find that you're tempted to add more sugar or sweetener to your coffee than usual, keep in mind sugar is a simple carbohydrate that helps the body compensate for low serotonin.
Sign #5 - You're lining up Netflix marathons
The desire to lay low, avoid socializing, and be alone with your favorite Netflix series may seem like a totally normal way to spend much of winter. Clearly, there are a lot of people enjoying good Netflix marathons, right? But if low energy, sluggishness, or withdrawal from social activities become habit around the same time of year every year, it's likely you're a person who is sensitive to the change in seasons.
Sign #6 - You're counting on your winter vacation to get you through
Are you a sun seeker when it comes to planning a winter vacation? Do you bloom like a flower on vacation and dread going home for fear of shriveling up like an autumn leaf? If so, you're likely someone who is sensitive to light. Going on vacation to a sunny location is a great way to get a quick dose of sunlight, but keep in mind, if you want to keep your serotonin levels up, you'll also need to keep up your light intake once you're back home.
Sign #7 - You're starting to hit snooze more than normal
Our bodies regulate their wake and sleep cycles (known as circadian rhythm) using light. Bright light in the morning causes a deep sleep at night. But as the sun's bright light becomes less available, our bodies have more trouble regulating sleep. This is why you may be tempted to stay in bed later in the morning as the days get shorter - getting up just isn't as fun without that energizing sunshine knocking on your bedroom window.
Sign #8 - You wouldn't be surprised if you put on 5 lbs this winter
Do you know that your pants are going to get a little snug this winter? It may be due to the increased carbohydrates your body is using to compensate for it's lower levels of serotonin production. This year, instead of being hard on yourself when your pants get snug, take a look at your daily light intake to see if that may be the culprit and not your lack of willpower.
Do any of these sound like you? Here's what it means...
It may mean you are one of the millions of people who are highly sensitive to light in the United States. The good news is that you can combat the effects of low serotonin by using a HappyLight in the morning. Just because the sun has taken it's leave for the next few months doesn't mean you have to suffer through its absence. Using a HappyLight for as little as 20-30 minutes a day triggers serotonin production just like sunshine does - except without the harmful UV-rays.
The key to feeling great throughout the fall and winter is to start replacing the light lost before your mood, sleep and energy nose dive. Therefore, if you've noticed any of these signs popping up, now is the time to implement a light therapy routine. Using HappyLight is great way to support yourself through the dark months and keep yourself blooming all year long.