Between football games, changing foliage and piles of pumpkins and gourds, autumn has officially announced its arrival. But if the season’s shorter days and chillier temperatures have you worried about catching a case of the end-of-summer blues, we don’t blame you.
Your mood and energy levels are often directly affected by the amount and type of light to which you’re exposed. Below, we shed a bit of light, so to speak, on how to control both the solar and synthetic rays in your life so you can stay well-rested and in high spirits.
Rise and shine
If the first thing you do in the morning is groan at your alarm clock, you’re already starting your day off on the wrong foot. Instead, try swapping your blaring buzzer for a soothing ‘natural light’ alarm, which gradually emit light. Research shows that waking up to a ‘simulated dawn’ can make you feel more at ease and ready for the day.
If your day is jam-packed with work and errands, it can be hard to find the time to catch some sun for that much needed vitamin D. But according to a study from Northwestern University, the best time to squeeze in an outdoor stroll is the morning. Researchers found that participants who took in the majority of their daily exposure to natural light in between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon had notably lower BMIs (body mass index) than those who were exposed later in the day. Why this solar domino effect? The more sunlight you get in the morning, the more energy you will have later in the day for say, working out.
Go back to black
Your phones, tablets and digital devices may be among your most prized possessions, but they also might be what’s getting in the way of you and a deep snooze. Research shows that light from our devices, known as ‘blue’ light, suppresses the emission of melatonin, the hormone that influences our sleep cycle. This could lead to a poor night’s sleep, which can compound health risks. Experts say to stay away from these lights at least two hours before you go to bed. Try making your bedroom a device-free zone, winding down instead with a good book or magazine.
Turn it off
Ever heard the term ‘bright lights, big city’? Between the street lamps and neon lights, sleeping in complete, natural darkness can feel impossible for urban dwellers. That’s when it’s time to invest in blackout shades. If you’ve been traveling and adjusting time zones, blackout shades can also be a boon. A distraction-free slumber will help remedy any jetlag, giving you the energy you need to accomplish more.
Seek (light) therapy
Think you are at risk for Seasonal Affected Disorder? Try a combination of artificial light and aromatherapy. Absorbing controlled artificial light with a sun lamp as well as stimulating smells like marjoram, geranium, bergamot and lavender can give you energy and stimulate your body’s immune and circulatory system. Keeping up a consistent routine of both can increase your energy, decrease stress and regulate a healthy sleep schedule in those dreary cold months.
Author: Hannah Weintraub