TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– If you’re feeling more than just your holiday blues right now, it could be more serious than you think.
You could be suffering from seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD.
The sun in the winter doesn’t rise until close to 8:00 a.m. and will set around 5:00 p.m. giving about a 9 hour day.
But in the summer the sun starts to rise around at 5:55 a.m. and wouldn’t set until closer to 9:00 p.m., that’s a 15 hour day.
The reason that’s important is because winter depression, SAD, has been linked to the short amount on daylight in the season. This causes a lack of Vitamin D and lower melatonin levels in our brains.Meaning, when it’s dark, your body produces more melatonin that helps our bodies fall asleep and wake up.
Behaviors like low energy, losing interest in things you normally enjoy, or wanting more sleep are all signs of depression, could be seasonal affective disorder.
“Vitamin D supplements are recommend,” KSNT’s Doctor on Call Dr. Tim Borchers said. “If at all possible, a little more time in what sun does exist is great, as long as you’re wearing your sunscreens.”
That’s another important piece to the winter that if often forgotten, sun damage.
The rays in the winter can reflect from the snow and through the clouds so it is important to use sun screen still in the winter.“Sunburn can clearly be a winter problem as well, it’s a little more insidious because its not such direct rays,” Dr. Borchers said. “If you’re skiing at 10,000 feet you know the UV radiation is 50% stronger, you’re getting 80% reflected off the snow, so you can really get a lot of sun damage.”
Along with the vitamin D supplements, you can also get light therapy lamps that can mimic natural sunlight. For more information on a light therapy box click here.