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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Cook This: Farro and Roasted Butternut Squash.

From gracelaced.com’s post on the same dish! Farro is a grain that is common in Italian restaurants and delis. You can find it here in the health food store and occasionally at restaurants- here in Portland, anyway. The grain is a bit nutty and is related very closely to wheat. It is not a gluten-free grain but it does vary from wheat enough that for...

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Is it real or is it Memorex? Dairy Substitutes.

The other day I was hungry and saw that there was some turkey bacon in the fridge. Mayo just didn’t sound good so I slapped some Earth Balance on spelt bread and made myself a delicious butter and bacon sandwich. I thought it was funny so I posted on my facebook status “Butter and bacon sandwich for lunch, is that so wrong?” I had lots...

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Upcoming Lectures at New Seasons Market

    Please join us! The Years Between: What Women in Their 20’s & 30’s Need to Know about Their Hormones Women in their 20s and 30s often feel that something is out of balance with their hormones yet their physicians tell them their symptoms (PMS, depression and anxiety, weight gain, sleep problems, general fatigue and malaise, etc.) are “normal.” Instead of birth control pills,...

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Product Review: Oregon Cracker Company’s Harvest Bounty Multigrain Crackers.

Little so likely to be disappointing as a new gluten-free cracker. But alas, Oregon Cracker has beaten the odds! These new crackers carried by our local coop are actually delicious. So delicious, as a matter of fact, that I’ve been sitting at my computer dipping them in Earth Balance soy-free spread (we’re out of real butter) for the better part of the last half an hour. They’re...

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Cook This: Homemade Granola.

  Warm and fresh straight out of the oven. The granola at the market is always a bit too expensive and a bit too sweet for my taste. I started making my own just last year and then it fell out of rotation. My almost-five year old has been asking for granola of late so I decided to make it again tonight. I always forget...

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