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Seasonal Affective Disorder and Sleep – What You Need to Know

Fall and winter are just around the corner. And for millions of folks around the country, the change in temperature can result in a change in mood as well. Though hard to define, many people report feeling more depressed in the cooler-weather months, or just a little more lethargic, as the shorter days and cold outdoor weather takes its seasonal toll.

Sometimes, this is just a natural shift in our bodies and brains as we adjust to a new climate. But sometimes this change in mood and energy levels can be attributed to a larger problem – namely, seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) was first recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in the 1990s. It’s estimated that roughly 4-6% of the U.S. population suffer from this condition.

The symptoms of SAD can vary and can be hard to pinpoint.

But they generally include:

  • Depression or anxiety
  • An increase in appetite and weight gain
  • Difficulty focusing, depleted energy levels
  • Trouble sleeping

In a nutshell, SAD is a lot like a number of other mental health conditions, such as depression, except that it only ticks on when the temperatures plummet, and the days become shorter. These symptoms are essentially triggered by the weather, and can linger well into the early spring months until the sun starts to shine once again.

Though SAD is common across the board for all corners of the country, the good news is that it’s also treatable and can be controlled.

Think you or a loved one might suffer yearly from these symptoms? Consider these tricks that will help get a mild or moderate seasonal affective disorder in check.


Tips for Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Get your sleep

Sleep can do a world of good when it comes to our mood, and our outlook.

When we’re asleep, our bodies produce the highest levels of melatonin, which is our own naturally-made anti-depressant.

So be sure you’re getting plenty of rest. And if you have tried everything and still don’t feel rested each day, you may have a sleeping disorder like obstructive sleep apnea. So make sure you seek a diagnosis and treatment.

See how easy modern treatments are here:


Get lots of light

Serotonin and melatonin are both instrumental for our sleep cycles and our mood. Unfortunately, these chemicals can be hard to come by naturally when the days are short.

So get outside as much as possible during daylight hours. And if need be, try a sun lamp or other alternative to boost these chemicals naturally.


Stay active

Exercising is great for the body, brain, and your mood. Those endorphins can provide a natural boost, while also helping you sleep well during the night.

Join a gym if the weather isn’t cooperative; you’ll be able to increase your energy levels during the day to shake off that sluggish feeling.


Load up on Vitamin D

Even if there’s no sun in the forecast, there are ample ways to load up on Vitamin D, which is essential for producing natural “mood boosts” through serotonin.

Opt for food rich in Vitamin D but low in calories — such as fish, milk, and whole grain cereals — to feel better across the board.


Mild to moderate cases of seasonal affective disorder can be overcome. And with a little effort, you can still enjoy fall and winter with plenty of reasons to stay alert, active, and excited about the cooler days.


Do you still wake up groggy each morning, and even throughout the day? It could be obstructive sleep apnea. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and get tested. Contact us here for any concerns.

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Seasonal Affective Disorder and Sleep – What You Need to Know
With cooler weather comes cooler moods, but the change in temperatures doesn’t have to change your outlook! Here are some tips about how to tame mild cases of seasonal affective disorder.

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