Sleep Tips

Winter Blues: The Connection Between SAD and Sleep

The cold, winter months can do a lot more than just bring icy winds or snow. Many people feel the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or the "winter blues." The bad news? Coming down with a case of the winter blues can alter your sleep schedule and even create insomnia-like symptoms. The good news? There are ways you can combat it and get back to feeling like your best self again!

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): What is it?

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression that occurs during seasonal changes , especially during the fall and winter months when the daytime light levels begin to naturally decrease. It produces symptoms very similar with major depression and other depression-related conditions.

Symptoms associated with the disorder include classic depression-related complaints such as a lack of energy, loss of normal concentration abilities, changes in sleeping patterns, changes in eating patterns, decreased involvement in social interactions, a decline in personal motivation, unusual irritability and the presence of dysfunctional emotional states such as helplessness or hopelessness.

The Connection Between SAD and Sleep

People with SAD often have trouble getting a good night's rest. However, according to a study published in 2013 in the Journal of Affective Disorders, people with SAD sometimes misinterpret their sleeping patterns for insomnia. This connection may mean that doctors can treat SAD patients with some of the techniques used to treat insomniacs.

Go from SAD to happy!

If you think you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are several things you can do on your own to start feeling better.

Get moving.

Moderate exercise, such as walking, riding a bike or swimming are great ways to get your heart rate up. If you don't have time for exercise, other household activities like doing chores can also help.

Try aromatherapy.

According to one doctor, essential oils can influence the area of the brain that's responsible for controlling moods and the body's internal clock that influences sleep and appetite. Take a hot bath at night and add a few drops of essential oils to relax and soothe you!

Take in some sunshine.

Getting some natural sunlight can be tough during the winter months. Take a stroll to your favorite lunch spot or opt to use half of your lunchtime break to walk around the block and soak up the sun right around noon -- when the sun is at its brightest.

Add Vitamin D to your diet.

Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked to patients with SAD; however, those who took Vitamin D saw significant improvements. Try adding a dosage of the vitamin to your daily intake, or look for foods that are rich in Vitamin D, like cheese, eggs and fish!

If these tips aren't helping, don't be afraid to seek professional assistance. Reach out to your doctor or physician.

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