As the sun continues to rise later and set sooner over the last few months of the year, our exposure to daylight diminishes. This can cause disruptions to our body’s biorhythms, as well as reduce our absorption of Vitamin D. Scientific studies have continued to gather more and more evidence about the negative impact of these changes. Now solutions have started to emerge to help counter these effects. The first defense is to be vigilant, noting behavioral changes such as sleep disorder, lethargy, irritability or dietary changes, and then find ways to restore them.
One method proven to help mitigate the effects of shorter days is the use of light therapy to mimic sunlight. Many types of therapy lights are available, including stationary reading lamps, wearable visors and pre-dawn timers that gradually increase and decrease light as if the sun were rising earlier and setting later. These can be programmed to a prescribed schedule. Other options include increasing Vitamin D intake and extending time spent on activities in natural outdoor light. While experiencing shorter days has not been directly linked to ongoing depression, if you suspect your energy and mood have been affected by reduced daylight, ask your doctor about ailments commonly described as the winter blues or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).