Rainy Weather Got You Down?
Rainy weather got you down?
Does all of this rain have you feeling blah? If you think that several gray days are making you tired, run-down, and blue, you’re probably right. A week of gloomy weather could make a person want to scream. It’s not all in your head: It may be caused by a physical response to decreased daylight exposure. Researchers know that light affects areas of the brain that regulate mood, appetite, sleep and energy.
Two key chemicals in the body – melatonin, which regulates sleep and energy, and serotonin, which regulates mood and appetite – are affected by signals of darkness and light sent to the brain from the eyes. During dark days, increased melatonin causes people to oversleep, feel lethargic, and have difficulty getting up in the morning. Decreases in serotonin levels are associated with decreased mood and libido, increased appetite, including cravings for junk food and carbohydrate-rich foods, and subsequent weight gain. Many of us feel miserable without enough sunshine.
The symptoms are those of the medical disorder Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The treatment of choice: Bright light. Brief daily exposure (15-30 minutes) to light 10-20 times brighter than normal indoor lighting reverses or minimizes symptoms in over 75% of patients with SAD. Medical science shows that phototherapy, or bright light treatment, may be highly effective for those of us affected by bad weather.
Neal Owens knows how bad overcast days can make people feel. “After a few gray days in a row, I definitely start to feel the effect. I have less energy, like my brain batteries are run down, I’m grumpy, and all I want to do is sleep. When I use my SunBox, though, I feel great. My energy level improves, I need less sleep, and my junk food cravings disappear. It’s amazing that something as simple as light could make this much difference,” adds Owens. Many insurance companies cover light therapy.