The clocks go back on the 31st October and for many that means an extra hour of slumber. For some however, the shorter days and longer nights herald the opposite: a reduction in sleep and energy, and a general feeling of being ‘down in the dumps’. It may not feel like it when you’re feeling down, but there are things you can do and changes you can make to help you feel better.
Missing the sun?
A lack of sunlight can affect our levels of serotonin, the so-called happy hormone responsible for our sense of wellbeing. It can also affect levels of melatonin, which is responsible for normal sleeping patterns.
If you notice a dip in your energy and mood when the seasons change, you could be suffering from SAD.
SAD or just a little sad?
For most of us the seasonal blues pass relatively quickly but for some they develop into a mild depressive condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short. As well as a dip in mood and energy, SAD symptoms can also include a brain fog and trouble concentrating, difficulty sleeping, flu-like aches and pains and a change in appetite.
If symptoms occur for at least two winters in a row with remission in the spring months, a diagnosis of SAD is usually made.
Look to the light
There are a number of steps you can take to help lessen the effects of SAD. The easiest, in spite of the colder weather, is to wrap up warm and get out and about, especially if the sun is shining. Early morning exercise can help to improve low mood for the rest of the day thanks to the ‘feel good’ endorphins it helps to release.
Light therapy in the form of a light box that mimics natural daylight can also help if you can’t get out.
Boost your B
Oat-based cereals (porridge especially) are a great way to start the day because they are an excellent source of B vitamins. The B vitamins are important because they help to convert food into energy, and deficiency has been linked directly to low mood, so well worth topping up. A B-Complex supplement can also help. Try our Jan de Vries B-Complex One A Day .
Serotonin, 5-HTP and SAD
Other mood-friendly foods include fish, turkey, chicken, beans, avocados, bananas, protein and wheatgerm, and this is in part because they contain the amino acid tryptophan, which our bodies use to make serotonin. Tryptophan converts to 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) which converts to serotonin in the brain. You can also source 5-HTP in supplement form, which removes the need for your body to create it from tryptophan. 5-HTP supplements, like Higher Nature’s Serotone , tend to be made from the seeds of an African shrub called Griffonia simplicifolia .
Herbal remedies and low mood
feelings of low mood and mild anxiety there’s
If Hypericum is not for you, Passiflora is a popular alternative. You could also try Jan de Vries Mood Essence, a combination of flower essences that may give support when it is difficult to stay positive. Taken regularly it aims to uplift and bring back an optimistic and enthusiastic outlook.
Another excellent herb is Ashwagandha. It’s classed as an adaptogen, meaning it can help your body adjust to stress, and is used by many to help with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
If you’re having trouble sleeping a natural sleep remedy can help. Dormeasan® Sleep with Valerian and Hops can help restore better sleep patterns, which means more quality time in restorative sleep stages. Take 30 drops in a little water half an hour before bedtime.