This month we go back to our Regular Standard Time (RST) with Daylight Savings Time (DST) ending Sunday, November 6, 2016. The upside is that you get that extra hour of sleep that you may have craved up until now, the downside though is that it will get darker earlier. With darkness and less sunlight, comes a higher impact on our physiological wellness. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a.k.a. the “Winter Blahs” is one of the many sleep issues that can occur with shorter days and reduced hours of sunshine. The pineal gland in the body, which is very much influenced by light, naturally produces a hormone called Melatonin. Melatonin is the oil that keeps your circadian rhythm and your biological clock running smoothly. As we age or experience changes in our time clocks such as DST or RST, the production of melatonin can decline, thus experiencing more fatigue and sleepiness during the daytime, and more insomnia at night. These rapid alterations can also affect our mood, hunger, mental alertness, immunity, stress, and even heart health. Here are few tips on how to manage changes to our circadian rhythms, and biological clocks this fall/winter season, and beat the winter blahs.
- Get up at the same time every morning. Assuming you don’t work shift work in your job, it’s important to keep regularity in your wake-up times. The mere act of moving your body and starting activity sends signals to the brain that sleep is over. This kickstarts and cues up the central body clock that it’s time to get going.
- Stick to regular meals in your day. If you always have dinner at 6 pm, stay with that, regardless of whether it is light or dark outside. Engaging in regular meal times communicates with our central clocks and send them the message to stay on track.
- Change your computer or electronic screen settings to ‘evening or nighttime’ (most devices have this ability) which switches the screen from blue to yellow. The more yellow, the more the brain will now think it’s truly night time and will increase production of melatonin and induce sleep. Better yet, shut down the electronics at least 1 hour before your regular bedtime, and don’t lie in bed watching TV or checking that last minute email.
- Decrease any stimulants such as coffee or tea during the later daytime hours and avoid alcohol.
- Take a nice 20 min. Epsom salt (Magnesium Sulfate) bath one hour before bed – your body will absorb the magnesium salts and provoke a state of relaxation
- Consider adding either Melatonin temporarily to your health regime and/or a SAD lamp, in order to work at resetting your inner clock. As with any supplement though, talk to your Naturopathic Physician if Melatonin is appropriate for you, before embarking on a supplement regime.
To your Health,
Dr. Olena Gill is a Licensed Naturopathic Physician and Registered Acupuncturist (2003). She practices acupuncture and TCM at Indigo Integrative Health/The Mind-Body Connection Centre in Parksville and Squamish, BC.
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Disclaimer: No information given here or in any post or page on this site should be construed as medical advice. Always consult your Naturopathic Physician to receive professional evaluation and treatment.
Copyright 2016 Dr. Olena Gill, R.Ac., ND – Indigo Integrative Health. When sharing any post or page from this site, please ensure to share in their entirety with links back to this site. Thank you.