It’s a time of year a lot of us dread. Suddenly, on the 30th October at 2am, the clocks go back and we find ourselves entering the darker evenings of winter. Even the brightest of souls can feel affected by the clock shift, and those with a tendency towards Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD may dread the onset of symptoms. Research shows that clock shifts can have a real impact on our health, with the governments of Kazakhstan and Russia abolishing them because of the increase in suicides around this time.
1. A couple of days before the clocks are set to change, set your alarm clock 10 minutes later each morning and go to bed 10 minutes after your usual time, increasing every day until you reach the shift. This way you adjust slowly over a period of time. This is particularly helpful for babies and toddlers, who won’t instantly adjust to a sudden hour’s change in their evening or morning schedule.
2. Make sure you get outside every day. A brisk walk and some fresh air, whatever the weather, has a real impact on health and wellbeing. In studies on SAD, getting outside is said to impact our melatonin levels and thus help sleep patterns. A lack of daylight is the most important factor in SAD, and so getting as much as you possibly can makes a difference. Exercise helps too. Plenty of fresh air is also cited as a way to help babies and children adapt to time shifts.
3. Supplement your diet with vitamin D. We create vitamin D in our bodies through sun exposure and because of the sun’s location low on the horizon during the winter months, we miss out. According to some studies, over half the UK population is severely deficient by spring, with those with darker skins more at risk. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and children are particularly in need of vitamin D as it helps with bone growth, as well as being implemented in immunity and a lesser risk of diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Food sources of vitamin D include fish, eggs, and mushrooms.
4. Adapt your diary accordingly. If you tend to have a heaving diary throughout the summer months, now might be the time to cut back and favour some home and hearth time. Goading yourself to go out on a dark wet night can feel a bit bleak, so if you can convince the family to enjoy some shared time at home you’ll probably feel better for it. Think board games, movie nights, story times, craft evenings, and cuddles on the sofa!
5. Brighten up your home. Lighting can really affect our mood and now is the time to make your nest in to the cosy, warm, uplifting space you want to spend a winter in. Get some little votive candle holders or make your own by painting glass jars, and place along the mantelpiece. Decorate around picture frames with fairy lights for a magical feel. Uplighters and lamps create a cosy, inviting space. Those with SAD might want to invest in a SAD therapy lamp which produces light intensity at 2500 lux or over (about ten times that of ordinary light bulbs). Dawn simulator lights can also be helpful.