Autumn’s Effect On Sleep, Anxiety, Depression, & Health

The skyline of burnt orange, rich gold, and rustic red make the trees resemble a chalk drawing that’s so exquisite that you’re afraid to touch it for fear of smudging the image. The pumpkins adorn the thresholds, and the smell of sweet cinnamon is second only to the sights of people sipping apple cider, sitting around the bonfire, and cheering under the Friday night lights. It’s autumn, and your cozy sweaters are ready to report for duty.

The above description of autumn is nostalgic; it’s the description that makes people fall in love with this season. But in between the football games and holiday prep lurks a reality that isn’t as picture-perfect and desirable: Autumn ushers in less sunlight, and this reality has consequences. 

Autumn’s Not-So-Secret Consequences: Cooler Days Cost You

When the days start to shorten, you are affected. “But wait,” you insist. “My pumpkin spice latte gives me life, and I look forward to the pumpkin patch and my cardigans all year!” That all may be true, but you can’t stop the proven biological response your body has to less light. 

The following are a few of these responses that you may relate to:

  1. SLEEP
    • Less light means your pillow and bed call your name earlier than in summer. When met with fewer ultraviolet rays in autumn than summer, your body becomes confused and wants more sleep to recover from the confusion. Unfortunately, your body may receive more rest, but you often wake up tired because your body is thrown off rhythm.
    • How many changes can we put in one season? Well, autumn may win that competition by a landslide. Children return to school or go for the first time, signaling the start of homework and extracurriculars. Summer vacations are over, so long stretches at work commence. All the ‘summer-don’t-care’ moments of eating and drinking may make those jeans you haven’t worn in months snugger than you’d like. All of these changes can send anxiety through the roof.
    • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) often makes its appearance when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Lack of sunlight and depression truly are ‘Best Friends Forever,’ working hand-in-hand to negatively affect your mood, one less sunray at a time. 
  1. HEALTH 
    • Think about the caveman days. Autumn was the last time to store food for winter, which was always a time of food scarcity. On top of that, the life-threatening temperatures of winter and the lessening light meant hunkering down was a survival tactic. Since the caveman days, your body has been programmed to crave energy-dense foods (fats and carbohydrates) in autumn as a way to store all the energy it can for the winter.

Although it’s a real bummer to talk about the hardships autumn ushers in, it’s important to acknowledge all aspects of it so that you can conquer the challenging sides of this particular season. 

How to Combat the Negative Effects of Shorter Days

To combat the negative changes that autumn triggers, consider regular exercise. Of course, exercising in the natural daylight is ideal, but even on a treadmill inside your home, you’ll receive the benefits of the serotonin and endorphin boost that exercise triggers. 

There’s also not enough that can be said for the power of a healthy diet, full of the vitamins and minerals your body and brain need to function at their best. Perhaps one of the best ways to keep your energy, mood, and health on track during autumn is to take a nutritional supplement like EMPowerplus Advanced, the most studied micronutrient in the world. 

Remember, as Associate Professor Kathryn A. Roecklein from the University of Pittsburg says, “it’s a biological response to changing light levels– NOT something we can overcome with sheer willpower alone.” Even the experts say that you should not go into the challenges of autumn by yourself, and you shouldn’t blame yourself for having challenges in the first place. 

Just like a soldier doesn’t prefer to enter battle without a weapon and shield, you should have no shame in wanting to enter autumn–the season that kicks off school, holidays, and lack of vacation–with a nutritional powerhouse like EMPowerplus Advanced. So shield yourself now to protect yourself later.

Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach