How to deal with shorter days and less sun

Is summer time getting you down? Here’s how to deal with early darkness

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With daylight saving time in full swing, you might feel a bit rough around the edges… a bit ‘off’ in a way you can’t really pin down.

“The loss of sunlight in winter creates a problem we know about with light exposure,” says Dr. Alon Avidan, MD, MPH, professor of neurology at UCLA and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at school.

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It is primarily centered around our circadian rhythm, which essentially aligns with the natural progression of light and dark throughout the day. Our bodies get used to a set of light and dark patterns, and then daylight saving time arrives every fall and disrupts that rhythm.

“If you don’t get that (correct) exposure to light and get your light from electronics instead, that’s when you can have problems,” he adds. .

Problems with insufficient light exposure

When our circadian rhythms are in sync, we have a better chance of having restful, restful sleep and generally more energy throughout the day. During the winter months, we often get up before sunrise and return home after sunset, essentially depriving the body of the exposure to natural light that keeps our clocks properly wound.

This lack of light can make us drowsy and less alert until our waking hours. Of course, a lack of sleep begins to affect all kinds of bodily functions, from cell repair to heart health.

At night, if the rhythm is interrupted, it can also affect the production of melatonin, which only perpetuates the vicious cycle of seeking restful sleep.

The good and bad sources of light

You probably already know it, but it bears repeating: the light on your phone is not a suitable source to deal with those shorter days. (And no, blue light glasses are no excuse to stare at your screen longer.)

“When you save an hour, you shouldn’t be watching TV late at night,” says Avidan.

He adds that spending time outdoors or in front of natural sunlight is crucial to help the body adjust and compensate for the physically less sunshine hours during the day.

If you find that you can’t get enough natural light during normal hours, it may be worth considering an illumination lamp to help get a less technical light when you get up in the morning.

Tips for creating restful sleep and a bright environment

Dr. Jessee Dietch, an assistant professor in the School of Psychological Sciences at Oregon State University, says our brains are not light switches that can be turned off for sleep at all times. It is important to prepare the body for sleep by developing a relaxing routine to unwind and by giving yourself a “buffer” between the day’s activities and your period of sleep.

When you wake up, look for bright light regularly, especially early in the morning.

Jessica Shaw, director of interior design at The Turett Collaborative, says designate an area if you work from home and leave all your electronics there at the end of the day.

“Avoid storing and charging devices at your bedside,” she adds. “To get used to this, start an evening ritual where you turn off your electronic devices before you intend to go to sleep, and reserve your room for rest and relaxation.”

This goes hand in hand with creating a generally more restful environment for sleep. Keep the temperature a bit cooler in the bedroom, if you can, and make it as comfortable or as comfortable as you want to coincide with a faster, deeper fall asleep.

Finally, Avidan says that a bright lamp could be a good investment, but it should be at least 10,000 lux (an amount generally recommended for light therapy). People struggling with a change in light might benefit from the added boost of gradually waking up to this type of light in the morning.

Products to help manage less sunlight

Hatch restoration


La Restore is certainly one of the prettiest bright lights around, and it also offers an array of bright colors and sounds to help you through the evening and wake up peacefully. One of the best features of the system is the highly customizable settings available through the Hatch app. Waking up to the calming sounds of the included meditative flutes is one of our favorites and a morning tradition you’ll want to embrace as well.

$ 129.99 at

Classic Cariloha Bamboo Leaves

Classic Cariloha Bamboo LeavesCariloha Classic

Looking for a softer upgrade to your standard bed linens? Try bamboo. This option from Cariloha not only keeps you up to three degrees cooler compared to cotton, but it does so without harmful chemicals or other synthetics that are definitely anti-sleep.

$ 179 at

Lushleaf blackout curtains

Lushleaf blackout curtainsLushleaf

If your room gets a ton of sun, great. However, when the longer days return, it can mean you wake up much earlier without the proper protection. An inexpensive blackout curtain can help keep the light out until you’re ready to get up (or at least until your lamp greets you in the morning).

$ 16.99 at

Bolan Cube Bookcase by Ebern Designs

Bolan Cube Bookcase by Ebern DesignsEbern Drawings

Stop with the excuse “I don’t have a place to put books by the bed.” Turning off screens and grabbing a book is a great way to jump into sleep time, and a small movable cube will ensure you have a place to always have something to read close at hand.

$ 24.99 at

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