Tis the Season for...the Blues?

Why the Holiday Season Messes with Your Circadian Rhythms.

Wednesday, Dec 11th, 2019

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The holiday season seems full of contradictions. There’s the beautiful snow, falling on evergreens and neighborhoods...and the marred, brown snow full of gravel and salt that accumulates on the sides of busy highways. There’s carols and symphonies of holiday music...and over-saturation of jingles on the radio and in department stores. There’s cookies and parties and time spent with friends and family...and weight gain and in-laws and gifts you didn’t ask for.

So while the holiday season is likely one you look forward to, it’s not without its stresses. One of the greatest contributors to the “blues” you might be feeling could actually be attributed to the sun, or lack thereof, during the holiday season.

You can probably remember from some science class in middle school (we won’t ask how long ago that was) that during November and December, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and gets less sunlight. This means more nighttime for twinkling snow and holiday lights, but less daytime for the mood-boosting dose of sunlight you need to feel awake and happy.

Here are a few of the ways this lack of daylight might disrupt your body’s natural rhythms:

Increased Fatigue

Blue light from the sun helps you feel awake and alert, but with the change in seasons it’s possible you leave for work when it’s dark and get home when it’s dark, missing the sunlight altogether. Because the nighttime usually signals to your body that it’s time to sleep, the extra darkness can make you feel extra tired.

If you give in to fatigue, there’s a good chance that you can mess up your body’s circadian rhythm. You don’t actually need more sleep, you just feel like you do, and extra naps or sleeping in can confuse your natural sleep-wake cycle.

What can you do?

Try to fit in some exercise. It can actually help you feel more energized. A brisk walk in the cold outdoors is sure to wake you up, but 30 minutes a day of any physical activity can really boost your drive to be productive.

Feeling Down

Sunlight helps your body produce serotonin, a feel-good hormone that can help boost your mood. So what happens without as much sunlight as you’re used to? You may just feel a little gloomier than usual.

Slight winter blues are pretty typical for this time of year, but if you’re feeling really unlike yourself it’s a good idea to speak to a healthcare professional. For those common feelings of just being down a bit, though, there are some things you can try on your own.

Make an attempt to increase your exposure to natural light. Even if this doesn’t mean going outside, try to stay close to windows to get some sun when you can. You can also take advantage of healthy lighting that brings the natural, outdoor light to inside spaces. Brilli has bulbs that mimic the sun’s blue light, so you can flip a switch and turn on the “sun” inside, getting its mood-boosting benefits.

More Stress

If you’re feeling tired and a little down, you’re probably feeling stressed, too. In addition to your circadian rhythm and hormones being a bit off because of the shorter days, there’s the added pressure of the holidays. Keeping warm, shoveling snow, spending money on gifts, traveling...the list goes on.

Don’t neglect yourself at this time of year. Self-care is important.

Spend some time and money on you: go to the spa, treat yourself to something delicious, or just stay at home and set aside a few hours when you can relax and enjoy some quiet time.

And it may help to know that Brilli makes bulbs for calming down, too. These ones mimic the candlelight, the time of day when your body is ready to wind down. They’re the perfect complement to a night on your own with a mug of hot cocoa and a cozy blanket.

Are the Brilli bulbs sounding like just what you need to get through the winter blues? Learn more about Brilli at bebrilli.com/the-science