Well it could be a lot of different things. Financial, health or family woes. Or it could be you're just a little S.A.D., that's Seasonal Affective Disorder. Experts are not sure what causes our S.A.D. ness, but they think it may be caused by a lack of sunlight. Caused by shorter winter daytime hours. Lack of light may upset your sleep/wake cycle, and other circadian rhythms. Which then can cause problems with a brain chemical called serotonin, which affects mood. Our circadian rhythm's, are 24-hour cycles that are driven by the body's "biological clock." The "biological clock" is regulated by light, or darkness, that let's the body know when it's time to sleep, or wake up.
The 24-hour circadian rhythm also controls functions like, body temperature, hormone release, and the balance of body fluid. The body's master clock, controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. When there is less light, like at night, or during the change of season from summer to winter the brain makes more melatonin so you get drowsy. So you start yawning at 6:00 thinking it's much later. Jet lag is when travelers suffer from disrupted circadian rhythms. When you pass through different time zones, your body's clock will be different from your wristwatch, making you feel groggy and disoriented. Your body's clock will eventually reset itself, but this often takes a few days. Allison T. Siebern, PhD, from the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center commented "When you cross time zones, it disrupts your internal clock, so you and the external time are desynchronized. Your body needs to get on the new rhythm.
Some of the SAD symptoms are:
- Feeling sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious.
- Lose interest in your usual activities.
- Eat more and crave carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta.
- Weight Gain
- Sleep more and still feel drowsy during the daytime.
- Lack of energy
- Slow, sluggish, lethargic movement
- Social withdrawal
Doctors often prescribe light therapy to treat S.A.D., usually for people who live in areas where winter days are very short, rainy, or snowy, or there are big changes in the amount of daylight in different seasons. Like the pacific northwest or England. Around here in California recommended therapy for shortened daylight includes regular exercise, a healthy, moderate to low carbohydrate diet with minimal simple sugar, caffeine and alcohol consumption. Which we all know can and usually does change around the holidays. Also there is a lot of positive responses to in-home negative ionized-air generators, and supplementation of vitamin D, and melatonin. According to Web MD, melatonin is naturally secreted in our bodies and helps regulate our circadian rhythms so that we sleep at night, but the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the supplement melatonin to combat jet lag and aid sleep. Some research shows that it can reduce jet lag on flights both east and west. Take 3 milligrams of melatonin an hour or two before bedtime at your destination, and plan to sleep for 10 hours. Melatonin appears to be safe if taken short term, but its long-term effects are not known. If you want to try melatonin, check with your doctor first.
Try starting your day with exercise during this time of year instead of ending your day with exercise. Being active during the daytime, especially first thing in the morning, may help you have more energy and feel less depressed. Take a walk, go for a bike ride, or have a swim in the morning before breakfast is a good way to get started. Don't forget though S.A.D. is a mild form of depression for most of us, but it could be more of an issue for some. If it is for you, it may be better to seek the advise of a doctor who may prescribe anti-depressant medications in some cases. Remember if you want things to be different in your life you have to change the way you do things. Learn to manage your stress better by taking up some hobbies. Nutrition isn't a big secret any more try to eat a more well balanced diet. If you smoke QUIT! If you have a substance abuse problem seek help. Manage your time better and find time to relax with someone or something you enjoy, other than sleep.
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