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  • Marla Vender, LCSW

Get Ahead of Winter Sleep Issues


You must have noticed that daylight is disappearing earlier and earlier here in Chicago. By November 1st, you can expect the sun to set before 6pm. Coupled with the gloom of fall and winter, you can expect to see precious little sunlight in the coming months. Without a good dose of sunlight per day, many of us will have a drop in our vitamin D levels that will impact our mood and sleep cycle. Melatonin will be on the rise earlier, causing us to feel more lethargic, and tired. Here are some things you can do to protect your mood and energy this winter, to keep yourself feeling healthier and happier.

  • Get sun exposure early in the day, or invest in a high quality SAD light to use for 10-15 minutes early in the morning, or close to when you wake up. Warning: If you suffer from mania related to bipolar disorder, please consult your doctor before using a SAD light.

  • Ask your doctor if you should supplement your vitamin D.

  • Keep your bedroom cool and add a humidifier if the air is too dry.

  • Maintain an exercise routine, and find ways to get outdoors and into nature, even if it’s cold and snowy outside.

  • Try to minimize sugary, fatty, carb-laden foods for energy, and reach for more nutrient rich choices to fuel your brain and body.

  • Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine too close to your bedtime. Even if you fall asleep easily, both will mess with the quality of your sleep.

  • Find opportunities to connect and be social on a regular basis. It’s easy to fall into a homebody routine that deprives us of the human interaction we need to feel good.

  • Seek professional help if you have a notable change in mood for 2 weeks or more.

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