Tag Solitude

Sleep Doc’s 4 Tips to Reverse Winter Blues


Photo Credit: Ayleene de Monn

Do you feel tired and lethargic as the cloudy days pile on and on during these cold winter months? Do you find it difficult to get going in the morning? Does your motivation, energy, and enthusiasm wane during the winter months?

Here are a few tips to help you live life to the fullest despite those cloudy days.

1. Stay physically active. Bundle up and take long walks during the daylight hours and get regular exercise. Get on your stationary bike as soon as the alarm goes off. This will also help improve your productivity in the morning.

Photo Credit: Debbie Schiel.

Photo Credit: Debbie Schiel.

2. Stay socially active. Call and keep in touch with your friends who are far away. Get together with your local friends for a drink or two. Argue with them, play with them, or even fight with them!

Photo Credit: Andrew C.

Photo Credit: Andrew C.

3. Look at the light. Consider light therapy using a special lamp with a very bright fluorescent light (10,000 lux) that mimics light from the sun may also be helpful.

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions about how to use light therapy. A common practice is to sit a couple of feet away from the light box for about 30 minutes every day. This is usually done in the early morning, to mimic sunrise.
  • Keep your eyes open, but do not look straight into the light source.
Photo Credit: Michael & Christa Richert.

Photo Credit: Michael & Christa Richert.

Symptoms of depression should improve within 3 – 4 weeks if light therapy is going to help.

Side effects of light therapy include:

People who take drugs that make them more sensitive to light, such as certain psoriasis drugs, antibiotics, or antipsychotics, should avoid light therapy.

A check-up with your eye doctor is recommended before starting treatment. Not sure which light box to buy? Here is a very helpful article from the Mayo Clinic.

4. Follow sleep hygiene instructions religiously. You can read my blog, 11 Tips for Deeper Sleep, to see the list of good sleep habits that we should be following all the time.

Photo Credit: Belovodchenko Anton.

Photo Credit: Belovodchenko Anton.

What are the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder?

Symptoms are usually the same as with depression. They usually start in the late autumn and then build up slowly during the winter months:

  • Increased appetite with weight gain (weight loss is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Increased sleep and daytime sleepiness (too little sleep is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Less energy and ability to concentrate in the afternoon
  • Loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability

There is no real test for SAD. Your health care provider can make a diagnosis by asking about your history of symptoms.

The health care provider may also perform a physical exam and blood tests to rule out other disorders that are similar to SAD. Consult your physician to make sure you do not have thyroid disorder, sleep apnea, or other medical disorder causing some of these symptoms.

If you are interested in participating in clinical trials, please click here to get more information about National Institute of Health’s SAD trials.

It is absolutely important that you get treated for SAD, even if it is mild. Untreated SAD can rob you of your motivation, productivity, creativity, leadership, and life itself.

If you follow above tips, then you can turn SAD on its head, and have a blast despite these cold and cloudy days! 

God Bless You.

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