I am a natural health enthusiast and I love sharing the things that have worked to keep me healthy and happy and improve my quality of life.
Do You Struggle With Winter Fatigue?
I don't know about you, but I feel like every year winter keeps getting harder and harder for me. I don't remember it affecting me so much when I was a kid, but as an adult, there is no denying that my mind and body function differently in the winter than they do in the summer.
As the days get shorter and darker, I get more tired. Even when I get plenty of sleep, it is extremely difficult for me to get myself out of bed in the morning, and I often feel like I'm ready for a nap within hours of getting to work.
Living in the Seattle area, winter days are particularly short. Many people leave for work in the dark and return home from work in the dark, lucky to have an opportunity to see sunlight during the day at all. Unlike most Seattle natives, I'm not a coffee drinker either, so upping my caffeine intake throughout the day isn't a useful solution to my problem.
I don't know whether it is my lack of physical energy affecting my mood or a melancholy mood affecting my level of physical energy, but what I do know is winter is becoming a real struggle, and I've been desperate for something to get me back into my groove. That being said, since I found something that worked, I'm super excited to share it!
Increased Sunlight Exposure: A Scientifically-Backed Solution
A few years back, I did a little bit of research on natural ways to increase energy levels during the winter, and one strategy I came across that intrigued me had to do with increased exposure to natural light.
This article from the Sydney Morning Herald explains how two science professors collaborated in research to figure out that there was a correlation with the incidence of students utilizing counseling appointments due to emotional distress and the hours of sunlight in the day. The key research finding was that less sunlight correlated with more distress.
Ideally, as cited in this research study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, you want to experience exposure to actual sunlight during the morning hours in order to energize your mind and body, but many of us don't have the time or opportunity to do that, especially in overcast Seattle.
Natural Spectrum Lights: Another Research-Based Solution
As I mentioned before, with living in Seattle, increased exposure to sunlight sounded great, but it didn't necessarily sound realistic. Last year was abnormally dismal, with only nine days of sunshine between October and the end of March!
Another challenge in the winter is that most people wake up before the sun comes up. If the sun doesn't come up until after you're awake, it's still not going to make waking up any easier.
Luckily, I found a more doable solution. When I discovered that you could purchase natural spectrum lights and set them to turn on in the morning at whatever time you desired, that seemed like a good idea to me.
This study from Columbia University shows that most participants experienced positive results within a week of using light therapy. Now I had a solution that would work even in grey Seattle with its super short winter days!
The only problem was that these lights are not cheap. The least expensive lights I found online were around $50, and I didn't want to end up wasting my money if they didn't work for me as well as I was hoping that they would.
Putting the Natural Spectrum Light Idea to the Test
I wanted to try out a natural spectrum alarm clock, but I didn't want to pay the price just in case it didn't work as well as I had hoped.
Luckily, last year I managed to get my hands on one of these alarm clocks for free! My dad won one at a work party, and apparently, he just saw it as extra clutter. Little did he know what a treasure he was parting with when it went home with me.
I eagerly set the alarm so that my gradual sunrise would begin 20 minutes before I wanted to wake up. The sound of quiet birds chirping would begin two minutes before I wanted to arise and would gradually get louder until go time.
I was so excited about my little toy, that I went to bed with a lot of anticipation for my personal sunrise with chirping birds included. What I woke up to the next morning was absolutely heavenly! After weeks of groggily getting up in the dark, I woke up feeling so refreshed and awake. It was a dream come true!
Was it a coincidence? Did I just feel alert and refreshed because I was excited about my light? I don't think so. Day after day, the light had the same effect. Of course, if I stayed up too late, I experienced the natural consequence of being tired the next day. The light isn't magical enough to overcome that part of nature, but in general, it is a total game changer. I'm completely sold on them.
Want to Beat the Winter Blues? Look No Further!
Like I said before, I was a bit concerned about paying for an expensive light that might or might not bring the results I was looking for. Luckily, since I tried a light out for myself, you can have the benefit of my experience and not feel like it's so much of a gamble.
From my personal experience, natural spectrum lights do have the ability to make a major difference in a person's winter quality of life. While I don't like to spend a lot of money on toys, I'm totally willing to make an investment in my well being.
I hate to risk sounding like an alarm clock salesperson, but really I'm just a quality of life salesperson. I'm so grateful that I will have this light as my companion to help me make it through the dark months of winter this year. I hope that many other people will be able to reap the benefits of natural spectrum lights like I have.
Check out what it's like to have one of these alarms in your room!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2017 Rebecca Young
Rebecca Young (author) from Renton, WA on September 19, 2017:
It's so worth it!
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on September 19, 2017:
Oh I hate the winter. I much prefer the summer when we've got the longer days and more sunshine. I really should invest in one of them simulation alarm clocks!