Have you noticed your bipolar symptoms change with the seasons?
Have you noticed your symptoms get worse around the holidays?
Seasonal Change And Less Daylight
I’m from New England. From November to March the weather gets colder and the amount of daylight goes down, especially after daylight savings.
I find that the change in daylight makes my bipolar symptoms worse. It’s important to manage symptoms in a different way.
Why Seasonal Change Affects Mood?
Here’s an interesting fact! Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, but also a circadian rhythm disorder as well.
What is a Circadian Rhythm?
A circadian rhythm is an internal clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. It repeats each time the earth rotates every 24 hours.
The daylight from the sun helps sync your internal body clock to the outside world.
When the seasons change there’s a change in daylight. Depending on where in the world you live you’ll notice that you’re mood is off during the day and less motivated to stay focused.
Any change to your internal clock is hard on your mood and sleep patterns, especially if you’re managing bipolar symptoms.
Quick Facts About Your Circadian Rhythm
Here are some quick facts about why your circadian rhythm is important:
- Internal Clocks Are Tied To Everything Around You: Body functions such as alertness, hunger, metabolism, mood and fertility are tied to your circadian rhythm. It’s important to keep them healthy.
- Changes In Sleep Messes Up Your Internal Clock: Whether you have insomnia or you’re looking at your smartphone while you’re going to sleep it can mess up your internal clock. It’s recommended that you get 7 hours of sleep every night.
- The Bipolar Brain Is Different: There’s evidence that bipolar disorder is a circadian rhythm disorder, along with being a mood disorder. A neurotransmitter called somatostatin regulates your internal clock and there’s less of it in a bipolar brain.
- Irregular Circadian Rhythm Leads To Mood Episodes: An irregular circadian rhythm causes problems with manic highs and depressive lows.
- Sunlight Is Connected To Serotonin: Exposure to sunlight has been linked to an increase of a hormone called serotonin. It helps to boost mood and calms you down and stay focused.
How To Help Your Circadian Rhythm?
Here are some tips for circadian rhythm health:
- Increase Physical Activity: Exercise is very important for a healthy circadian rhythm. If there’s snow on the ground in the middle of winter I recommend a fun activity like snow shoeing.
- Don’t Stay In Bed Or On Couch All Day Long: When you’re tired you might feel like laying down all day, which messes up your circadian rhythm. Avoid staying in bed unless it’s for sleep or love making.
- Increase Your Light Exposure: If there’s less daylight it’s recommended that you try bright light therapy to reset your circadian rhythm.
- Take Some Vitamin D: Taking vitamin D helps improve sleep and mood. It helps your brain produce melatonin and makes you less anxious.
- Avoid Or Limit Caffeine: Consuming caffeine can delay you circadian rhythm, especially when it’s before bed time. So, avoid or limit it if you can.
How Do You Make Up For Less Daylight?
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