Suffer from winter depression? Light is XTC for the brain!
It’s not uncommon to feel a bit down during these cold and short days. You might have the winter blues. But what can you do about this? Psychologist and sleep expert Annelies Smolders talks about this subject in the Belgium tv show ‘Laat’, translated in English it’s called ‘Late’.
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash
It’s cold, raining or snowing and the days are short. It’s winter which often comes with a winter depression. Even Mick Jagger suffers from it, since he wears light glasses. These glasses will increase your daily amount of light. It helps because light is XTC for the brain. You wake up, get energy and are happy because of daylight.
When daylight enters your eyes, your production of serotonin and cortisol increases. Serotonin is the hormone that makes us happy and cortisol makes us feel energized. If it gets darker your eyes signals to your brain it has to produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. So light is very important for our sleep-wake cycle.
The consequences of biological darkness are big! In the winter we spent more time inside, the light inside is often to dark which means that our eyes tell our brain it has to produce melatonin and makes us feel sleepy during the day.
So, the winter blues actually is a shortage of light. You’ll feel a bit down and melancholic, you’ll eat more and even your libido will decrease. To get your recommended amount of daylight you’ll have to go outside at least two times a day, each time two hours, preferably in the morning. For most people this is impossible. What also works is moving your desk in front of a window or Good Light lamps.