As soon as winter starts rolling around, I just want to sleep later and later. And more and more. Hell, if I could type lying down, I'd be writing this in bed.
It's not fair that bears get to hibernate and we don't.
Sometimes this lassitude has to do with S.A.D., seasonal affective disorder, caused by lack of light. But most of the time, we can be in a perfectly good mood and just wish we were huddled under the covers alternating between reading a good book and snoozing. Oh my god, that sounds so good.
Now I really want a nap. Must... fight... the... urge... to... (insert contented light snoring sounds here).
What the experts say
"You can feel sluggish in winter without getting depressed, but it's due to the same factor that triggers winter depression in vulnerable people: the later sunrise and shorter day length. Bright light is directly activating ("better than coffee," one of my patients remarked), and it corrects the wintertime drift in the brain's circadian timing system, which tracks sunrise. Conventional home and office lighting is not bright enough to do the trick, but there are bright light therapy devices. For advice on them, go to the Center for Environmental Therapeutics (cet.org). ‘Full-spectrum lighting' is a commercial gimmick and presents a potential hazard, since while most photosensitizing medications interact with UV, some also interact with light sources that emphasize the short wavelengths in full-spectrum. Bright light therapy is not incompatible with medication. The effect of properly enhanced lighting, with respect to fatigue, is virtually immediate."
MICHAEL TERMAN, director, Center for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms, Columbia University Medical Center, New York City
"If a person is not suffering from depression and is just low on energy, often all they need to do is change a light bulb. Most lighting is predominantly yellow-orange. This stresses the adrenals and depletes our energy quickly. The problem with our lighting sources is that they're not balanced - and when there's too much or too little of any colour there will be a biological reaction. Often we can just switch to full-spectrum light bulbs, which contain all the colours of the rainbow in the same proportion as the sun. Over time, the effects are cumulative. Not everyone can use bright light therapy, such as those on certain medications."
SUZANNE McLAUGHLIN, owner, operator, Orientations Nova, Amos, Quebec
"Herbs classified as adaptogens help the body adapt to stressful situations during times of change. Some people get overstimulated on Panax ginseng and other adaptogens. Herbalists can assist with choosing an appropriate adaptogen. Others are Oplopanax (Devil's club), Rhodiola (rose root), Schisandra (Chinese magnolia vine), Withania (Ashwagandha or winter cherry), Eleutherococcus (Siberian ginseng) and Astragalus (milk vetch root). Adaptogens are not recommended for use during the acute phase of an illness."
DANETTE STEELE, registered clinical herbalist, Toronto
"Getting ready for winter requires you to get ready before winter. Limit sugar, consume a diet rich in whole foods and antioxidants, engage in regular physical activity, and consider a high-quality omega-3 essential fatty acid supplement. Omega-3s help with depressed mood. Supplementing with vitamin D may lift your spirits. Winterize your mind and soul by shifting your perception of winter."
SARA CELIK, naturopathic doctor, Toronto
"Waking up and going to work is harder in the winter. A soap that contains high-quality citrus oils like grapefruit or mandarin can help you leave the house refreshed. And when you're at your desk, a battery-operated diffuser with a couple of drops of rosemary or peppermint on the aroma pad can improve alertness and concentration. If you're going to use essential oils, it's important to consult a trained aromatherapist; some oils can have adverse effects if they're used in the wrong situation, and others can be harmful in the wrong concentration."
JEN OLSEN, certified aromatherapist, Burlington, Ontario