Have you been feeling blue since the clocks went back? You may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD affects one in fifteen Brits between the months of September and April, and is characterised by persistent low mood, irritability, and feeling sleepy during the day.
For those suffering from SAD, the winter months can be particularly difficult as symptoms are often made worse by the shorter days and reduced sunlight.
At its worst, the disorder is treated with antidepressants and UV light therapy but in milder cases, small lifestyle changes like getting a good night’s sleep, eating right and spending more time outside can be incredibly effective.
Silentnight’s sleep expert, Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, shares these tips to help protect both your mood and your sleep, whether you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or your energy levels have simply dipped during the winter months –
During the winter, people are often less motivated to exercise but it’s crucial to keep moving if you want to boost your mood. Exercise reduces stress hormone levels and enables you to sleep more deeply, which will make you better prepared for the day ahead.
Exposure to sunlight increases the brain’s release of the happy hormone – serotonin. In the winter your serotonin levels can dip, so try to get outside as much as possible. Even just half an hour on your lunch break will make a difference.
The winter leaves many of us craving starchy carbohydrates and while these are a vital part of any diet, it’s important to strike a balance. If you need a snack, fill up on foods like walnuts, bananas and tomatoes; they all help your body to produce serotonin and will lift your mood.
Have a nap
Feeling run down during the day is a common symptom of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Naps should be between 10 and 20 minutes and be taken when you start to feel sleepy or find yourself losing concentration.
Be tech smart
Constant connection can negatively impact your mood. While it might be tempting to cuddle up with your iPad this winter, make sure you allow your brain to switch off in the evenings. Avoid social media accounts and emails for 90 minutes before bedtime.
For more information about getting a good night’s sleep, check out our blog ‘10 steps to a great sleep’.
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