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Waning Daylight and Your Body's Rhythm

The days are getting chillier, and along with it, our daylight hours are waning. I am half excited, half not entirely ready for cold winter weather! You might notice this change in season has an impact on your sleep and energy cycles. A few posts back I talked about the infradian rhythm, and how a female's cycle differs from a male's. Keep this in mind as we talk about the changes in circadian rhythm moving into the fall and winter seasons.

What is your circadian rhythm? It is a response cycle within your body that is tuned into light and dark signals. As we approach morning, and it gets lighter outside, our bodies will naturally tune into this and become more wakeful. In the evening, as it gets darker, our bodies will again tune into this and become more sleepy.

As we move into fall and winter, you may notice shifts in your energy levels. That is perfectly normal! However, due to electricity and artificial lighting, we are able to create an environment that continues to signal to our brain that we don't have to go to sleep yet, and that there is still enough "daylight" to continue working. I am by no means arguing against electricity (thank goodness it exists!!) but it is interesting to note how our primitive brains will still try to default to the light of the sun as opposed to the artificial light in our homes and workplaces.

When you take a step back and view the season of fall as a whole, as opposed to the daily rhythm, it is considered a time of harvesting, a time of settling in, a time of preparing for winter. Then when winter arrives, it is a time of hibernating, a time of resting, a time of enjoying the fruits of your labors from the past year. Given this rise and fall in energy throughout the year (spring = planting and starting new life, summer = focusing on growing, fall = harvesting, winter = resting), it is also no wonder that you will feel this change.

As I was thinking about this topic, and considering what my overarching point of this blog is, it came down to this: our bodies are cyclical. There are seasons for everything. It is normal to have times of higher energy levels, to have more clarity and capacity to take on projects, to fill yourself up in external ways like social activities or traveling. It is also normal to have times of lower energy levels, making rest a priority, spending more time with things that quietly fill up your cup.

Over the next few months, have self awareness of what your body is communicating to you. Adjust your expectations and actions accordingly. Is it the holidays and you are excited to host/go to the gatherings? Or are you wanting to spend more time at home by yourself or with loved ones? Do you find that your sleep habits are the same or have they changed? Do you find yourself craving different foods, salads versus soups, fruits versus root vegetables, warm drinks versus cold drinks? Be curious! And embrace what your body is telling you :)

P.S. I've heard of some who use candles more often in the evenings during the colder months, to bypass the artificial light signals to the brain. Also, utilizing blue light glasses can also help keep your body's circadian rhythm on a healthy cycle and help your sleep quality.

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