Daylight is an important component of our health which we often overlook. Not getting adequate exposure to daylight can lead to a drop in serotonin, our “happy” hormone, leading to depression and even seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression associated with recurrent seasonal patterns.
“In the fall, only a minority of people actually get that promised extra hour of sleep.” – Harvard Health Blog
For many of us, the end of DST means it will be dark outside as soon as we get off work. This can drastically affect our circadian rhythm and, frankly, our mental health. Our circadian rhythm is a physiological function that helps set your daily sleep and awakening schedule. It tells your body when to produce more melatonin, the sleep hormone, and when to decrease the production of it. It is like magic – and you can’t even see it all happening! Yes, believe it or not, getting ten or so minutes of sunlight will set the stage for a much more restful night of sleep.
Sunshine boosts the level of serotonin in your body. Serotonin is a chemical associated with mood improvement and being calm and focused. In fact, increased exposure to natural light may even help ease the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. These are yet a few reasons why the time is now to prepare for the changes in daylight and adjust our schedules accordingly. Begin your journey today with your personal plan to not only survive yet thrive when November 7 is here.
Here are my top five tips to thrive this year.
1. Make the most of your morning (sunlight): Our body is so smart it sets its own clock according to the sunlight. Get your dose of sunlight as soon as the sun rises and take a walk (even for 30 seconds) outside as the sun is setting. This sets your circadian rhythm for the day and sleep that night and ensures you’ll get some time outdoors before the day begins. That extra sunlight is worth the effort!
2. Be consistent: It’s no surprise that a consistent bedtime is vital to a healthy sleep habit. Start now tending to your health and go to bed at the same time every night. Waking up at the same time each morning is a huge boost to your sleep cycle as well. Yep, this also applies to weekends.
3. Exercise: Exercise helps us sleep. Exercise too close to bedtime, however, can mess with the chemical make-up of our brains that are trying to sleep. Go for a morning walk or get some steps in at lunchtime so you can soak in that precious sunlight!
4. Reduce alcohol intake: Now is the time to decrease alcohol consumption as we approach the end of DST. The phony relaxation you may feel in the evening turns to a stimulant as it settles into our systems. The golden rule for sleep experts is to avoid alcohol at least three hours before bed. A good night’s sleep will ensure you can wake up early, be productive, and enjoy that beautiful sunrise.
5. Shift work hours: There are countless benefits from setting work boundaries. As we approach the end of DST, I encourage you to shift your working hours earlier so that you can get some afternoon/evening light before the sunsets. Those few short hours – or minutes – when we shut off work helps our brains calm and prepare for its most important appointment of the day: sleep.
Now is the time to prioritize your daily dose of sunlight and set up a consistent sleep routine. Contact us if you are interested in helping your team crush the end of DST and build a wellness program for productivity, creativity, and long-term happiness and health at email@example.com.