So it’s your average Monday. I get home from work, have a bite to eat and get ready to watch TV and catch up on paperwork and POW! We hear a boom and our power goes out. I then realize it is 7pm and it is already getting dark outside. The summer is almost over and it is getting darker and darker earlier and earlier every day.
So what can I do in the dark? My cell phone works, so I guess I can do a blog and tie it in to the dark room I’m in. Did you know that sunlight plays a big role in our happiness? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression related to the amount of sunlight you receive. In winter, we don’t get as much sunlight and this is a big part of this problem. Some new research seems to show that getting more sun exposure in the summer may help reduce SAD.
Sunlight increases serotonin levels and serotonin is the hormone that helps regulate our happiness. Many antidepressant medications work by increasing serotonin levels in our body. Who knew sunlight does too? And of course sunlight is a safer way to go than taking all those prescription medications. Sunlight increases serotonin levels as well as keeps it in our system longer.
There also seems to be a connection between summer light exposure and vitamin D. Light exposure stimulates the body to produce cholecalciferol, which it later converts to Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body maintain serotonin levels. It is common to have vitamin D deficiency in the winter months because the body isn’t exposed to much sunlight, and thus can’t produce vitamin D naturally. This seems to be the link to the winter blues...or SAD.
Research is showing that cholecalciferol levels peak in the fall. They seem to be built up through the summer and fall, and the stored up cholecalciferol is then available in the winter months to naturally produce Vitamin D. But if you don’t get out in the sun, those levels won’t build up, and they won’t be available in the darker winter months to make vitamin D.
So, as I wait for my lights to turn on, I’m saying that you should get out in these last few months of nice weather, enjoy the sunlight now and it will help you keep smiling through the winter. (You like the “smile” tie in?) This past weekend we got out and enjoyed a White Sox game for some fun in the sun. Whether it is the White Sox, Cubs, one of the many local minor league teams, a walk in the park, a pumpkin patch, etc., get out and soak up as much sun as you can while you can. The days are getting shorter, and the temperature is getting cooler, so do it while you can. It may help you keep those winter blues away, not to mention all of the other benefits of having good vitamin D levels.
Enjoy the rest of the summer, and give us a call if you need us to help you get that smile ready for the winter. And if you go to a White Sox Game, be sure to get an ice cream helmet. They are so good in the summer sun.