Our circadian “pacemakers” are the suprachiasmatic nuclei. These are located in the brain (within the hypothalamus, to be precise), and these are synchronized with the amount of light in the day and the times of the day. To be sure: it is not identical for all people…this is due to genetic differences based upon your heredity and where your ancestors originated. These suprachiasmatic nuclei receive input from light-sensitive cells in your retinas that give you an almost-exactly 24-hour rhythm within your body.
SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
This is an affliction comprised of successive or continuous episodes of depression brought about in the change of seasons (such as late Fall to early Winter, and then repeating again during the Spring-Summer change). One of the key findings associated with a study of this affliction is that SAD-sufferers happen to secrete more melatonin during nights of Fall and Winter. Melatonin is a hormone that greatly affects our sleep patterns.
Coupled with this is the fact that the daylight and daytime hours diminish greatly, bringing about a feeling of sluggishness and over-tired responses. This is natural. We live in an artificially-lit world of light bulbs and computer screens, with an excessive amount of noise during the course of the day. Centuries ago, the winter months were a time to live quietly from what was grown, harvested, and gathered during the warmer seasons.
6 Healthy Ways To ChangeYou Can Adjust
The Autumnal Equinox begins on September 22 of this year. So, what can we do to adjust and compensate for the disturbance to our circadian rhythmic desire for prolonged sleep and rest? Let’s go over a few things:
- Then sleep and rest! This will take some adjustment on your part, especially since the majority of people may not realize they are affected by the weather changing. It’s important to rest even during the day and giving yourself a “power nap” during the middle of the day can do wonders. Moreover, turn in to bed earlier in the evenings…give yourself an extra hour…a conscious effort on your part. The hour you have to jump up in the morning, put on your “goof” suit and drive to Happytown for work in the Happy Store…that hour may not change, but you can change what time you turn in for the evening and give yourself the extra sleep your body needs.
- Vitamins and nutrients: A well-balanced diet is essential. Vitamins during the winter months that people neglect are the D vitamins and the B vitamins, both of which are important for everything from skin tone to stress. Supplement your meals with a well-rounded intake of vitamins and minerals. A good multivitamin goes a long way.
- Go easy on the caffeine: This is really easier said than done (especially for Yours Truly), but it can be done. I make 6 pm my “cutoff” time for coffee, and if I have one close to that time? It’s “half-caf,” or half a tsp of instant and half a tsp of decaf. Coffee, tea, and caffeinated beverages have the effect of keeping your neurotransmitters on “high alert,” and by the evening hour, you should be “weaning” yourself off of them to promote better rest.
- Nervines: What? What was that? Yes, Nervines are a group of herbs that work on the nervous system…either excitatory or calmative. You need the latter. Peppermint, Chamomile, and Catnip (yes, Catnip is calmative for humans) are three good examples of herbs that can be taken as a tea before bedtime. I have mentioned Catnip (Nepeta cataria) in other articles. All are effective, as is the herb Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). Be cautious! If you take more than one, they have a synergistic effect…they will work in tandem and potentiate the actions (increase the effects) of the others.
- Know when to stop. Oh, that’s a good joke, right? No, it’s the truth. Take a huge task (such as stacking all of your wood on the porch) and break it down into a couple of days. Pace yourself in your undertakings, and break a job around the house up into two or three parts. You’re not decreasing production, you’re increasing effectiveness! Adjust your activities seasonally to compensate for the increased need to rest and slow things down.
- Exercise, meditation, and relaxation. You all know what a big believer I am in physical fitness and training. It will help you to relax. That’s right! Exercise has been proven to help people rest more efficiently and effectively. Meditation is important to clear your mind and to decrease the amount of stress during the day. Relaxation can take the form of any activity that promotes peace and serenity or enjoyment in your life, such as reading a good book or listening to some soft music.
So we’ve touched on a few things here to help you in the transition from Summer to Fall…a transition you may have never been fully aware of until now. Questions and comments are welcome, along with some of the experiences you’ve had that may help others to deal with the changes of the season. Fight that good fight, and adapt to changing conditions to win your daily battles! JJ out!