Hello from inside the well! We’re approaching the end of January, and while stores are boasting their spring collections, many people are coping with the winter time blues. Most people are familiar with SAD (seasonal affective disorder), and ways to fight the blues (using a light box, getting outside, regular exercise, healthy diet, getting enough sleep, etc.). I want to take some time to explore the reasons behind these seasonal fluctuations of energy and mood.
Your pineal gland, which produces the hormone melatonin (a regulator of sleep cycles, sometimes referred to as the “Dracula hormone”), is not active during the day. When night time arrives and brings darkness, the supra-chiasmatic nucleus causes the pineal gland to produce melatonin. Darkness is a key factor in the release of melatonin; the pineal gland does not create melatonin unless there is an absence of light. Even artificial indoor lights can interfere with the release of melatonin.
(Enjoy this song about the supra-chiasmatic nucleus)
There are more hours of darkness in the winter, so it makes sense that there’s more melatonin and lethargy. However, another piece of this puzzle is the decrease in serotonin production in the winter. Serotonin plays a role in feelings of happiness and well being, so having less of it in the winter can help explain why we get the blues.
(Click this image to check out some ways you can lift your serotonin levels naturally!)
Have you ever dealt with sadness/low energy in the winter months? What have you done to cope? Share in the comments!
Thanks for stopping by the well!