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Fall Equinox: The Only Constant is Change

In a few days the sun will cross the Earth's equator, marking the beginning of fall in the Northern Hemisphere. The days will get shorter and for humans, who rely on light to reset their internal clocks, the shift can have an impact on normal sleep cycles.

Rocks balanced over fog

Since adopting artificial lighting these changes are less pronounced and now most people easily adjust to the decrease in daylight - yet others find themselves more sensitive to the seasonal shifts. This sensitivity is known as SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the reduced sunlight affects not only the natural circadian rhythm but also the Melatonin and Serotonin production levels. And, "if you're like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody."

Luckily there are many treatments available including light therapy, medications and psychotherapy - if you experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, feel hopeless or frequently think about suicide, speak with your doctor.

Signs and symptoms of SAD may include: (Mayo Clinic)

  • Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

  • Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

  • Having low energy

  • Having problems with sleeping

  • Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight

  • Feeling sluggish or agitated

  • Having difficulty concentrating

  • Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

  • Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Sleep Quality Matters

Maintaining a sleep schedule with consistent bedtimes / wake times and allowing 6-8 hours for quality sleep can make a big difference during the season change. Getting quality sleep on a regular basis is especially helpful if you struggle with low energy, depression and difficulty concentrating.

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