How And Why Reduced Daylight Has A Negative Effect On Our Mood
Though we can all expect certain seasonal changes every year, the effects of shorter days and less sunlight may hit us like a brick wall. In fact, research shows that transitions into and out of shifts in daylight can significantly disrupt our circadian rhythm—physical, mental, and behavioural changes that follow a daily cycle—and lead to changes in sleep.
When sunlight decreases, so does serotonin activity. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found to help balance mood. Higher levels of it are linked to calmness and better mood while lower levels have been associated with anxiety and depression. On the flip side, less exposure to sunlight can boost melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy. This shift can negatively affect energy levels, sleep quality, and mood.
Reduced daylight has been associated with several adverse health outcomes including the winter blues and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a form of depression that occurs when there are fewer hours of daylight. SAD can take a toll on energy levels, appetite, sleep and—you guessed it—mood.
All that said, there are known ways to combat the effects of reduced daylight on mood.
What You Can Do to Boost Your Mood
• Get as much sunlight as you can
Sunlight—even in small doses—can help combat vitamin D deficiency, which is a known factor for mood disorders. There are several foods that contain vitamin D (such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and egg yolks) but you’d need to eat them pretty regularly to get enough vitamin D. Talk to your doctor to check your vitamin D levels and see if a supplement can help you.
• Make time for movement
Regular exercise is a proven mood booster. Though reduced daylight may get in the way of an after-work run, remember there are plenty of alternatives. If you can’t make it to a gym, try at-home workout apps or videos on YouTube. Even if you don’t have equipment at your disposal, you’ll find thousands of options that require just your bodyweight.
• Consider light therapy
Also known as phototherapy, light therapy helps boost mood with a light therapy box that mimics natural outdoor light. This can be especially helpful if you work in a windowless environment. Talk to your doctor to learn more.
If the winter blues have you down, you’re not alone. By recognising how a lack of sunlight can affect your mood, you can better manage your health and happiness by prioritising self care.
Where to go for a hit of winter sunshine
Absolute Sanctuary, SHA Wellness Clinic, Sen Wellness Sanctuary, Vana, Six Senses Zighy Bay