Why Mood is Affected by Less Sunlight & What to do About it

Even though spring is on the way, we are still dealing with our shorter, darker winter days. More darkness. Less sunlight. 

Although I don’t mind winter, the turning inward, the quiet, the darkness, around this time every year my body and mood start responding to the long winter. Even if my introvert self likes the season, my body is ready for the sun. Ready to be outside again. Ready for longer, brighter days.

Here’s the deal…sunlight stimulates cells in your eye that connect to your brain. The part of your brain it affects is known as the “master clock.” This master clock coordinates the biological rhythms in our bodies. This includes sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, neurotransmitter production, digestion, body temperature, and a host of other important bodily functions.

Things can really get thrown off in the winter when we have less sun.

For instance, at this time of year we produce less serotonin—one of our brain chemicals that affects mood and energy levels. Also when there is less light, we produce more melatonin, and this can make you feel groggy and fatigued, even as early as 4:00 PM in the winter! If that wasn’t bad enough, you are also getting less vitamin D as this comes from sun exposure. Low vitamin D for some people can cause feelings of depression. Fortunately, you can help yourself escape the darkness. 


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Seasonal Allergies? Already?

Every year around this time I get an influx of patients who are sick. Runny nose, cough, irritated eyes, full ears. And often enough it’s the same patients year after year. I get out my thermometer, stethoscope, peek in their ears and ask “Are you sure it’s not your allergies acting up?” “Oh, right! But isn’t it too early?” Some hop right on Claritin or...

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Cook This: Gluten-free Dairy-free Rosemary Chard Frittata

A recent research article was published with the finding that the scent of rosemary improves brain performance. Since I’ve got a lovely old rosemary bush in the back yard I figured why not set my sights on developing some recipes that incorporate this lovely and aromatic herb? I mean, who can’t use a little bit of extra brain power, right? My first thought- frittata. A...

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Cook This: Gluten-free Ling Cod Fish Tacos

I originally found the recipe for Scrumptious Halibut Fish Tacos on Epicurious about 4 years ago. I bookmarked it and have gone back at least a dozen times. This time though, I wanted a slightly less expensive fish for a weekday meal so I asked Lyf at Flying Fish Co what he thought would work well. It took him about 5 seconds to choose Pacific...

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Navigating Superbowl Sunday with Healthy Choices

Tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday. We’re just over a month into 2012 and already I’m seeing that the gym isn’t quite so full of all of the resolution folks. But if you resolved to make healthier choices this year (or you have a healthy eating theme) and you are having trouble figuring out how to navigate in a world where most people don’t make healthy choices,...

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The Secret to Good Health: Exercise.

There are 1,440 minutes in every day. Can you schedule 30 of them for physical activity? I just watched a twenty-minute YouTube video about the single most important thing we can do for our health. Exercise. Here is the link for the video. I highly recommend sitting down with a cup of tea and checking it out. After you watch, if it strikes a chord,...

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