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Let the Light In

Feeling tired? A bit down? Lacking energy? It may be your circadian rhythms. Your circadian rhythms, which are responsible for synchronizing your internal clock to 24 hours, influence sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, body temperature and other important bodily functions. While produced naturally within the body, they’re affected by external signals, most notably light. In the winter months, when there’s less natural light and people tend to spend more time indoors, circadian rhythms can get thrown off.

Simply put, with less daylight, our brain releases more melatonin, which can make us feel tired and depressed; more daylight is believed to result in our brains producing more serotonin, the so-called “feel-good” hormone.

Try to get outside for at least 30 minutes each dayCombating the Problem: As spring arrives, try to get outside for at least 30 minutes each day, preferably around noon when the sun is strongest. If you can’t get outdoors, position yourself near a window. Also, pay attention to indoor lighting as improper indoor lighting can disrupt circadian rhythms. Full spectrum fluorescent lighting comes closest to that of natural light because it provides light in the blue portion of the spectrum. This type of light is best in the morning, when you want to be awake and alert. At night, exposure to blue light (think electronics) can cause you to be alert when you want to be calm or fall asleep. In the afternoon and evening, amber, orange or reddish light is best. Research shows that, in general, people feel happier in brighter conditions and more relaxed in warmer color temperature conditions.

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