Seasonal Affective Disorder and Sleep – How Are They Linked?

Person lying in bed on nice day

Seasonal affective disorder and sleep are interlinked. If you have a sleeping problem, whether you sleep little or too much, you might have seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

You want to know more about the relationship between SAD and sleep? Then read on.


Seasonal Affective Disorder and Sleep: The Link


Do you notice that when you don’t get enough sleep, you are also in a funky mood? 

That’s because sleep is an important part of our life. 

Look

Sleep repairs a person’s body so that it will be ready for another day of life. 

You will have more energy when you get enough sleep. 

What is considered enough?

Adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep.

The amount of sleep you get should also be coupled with quality. 

However

There are just times when people experience difficulty sleeping. 

This malady is called insomnia. It’s a condition where a person doesn’t just have difficulty sleeping, but when they do sleep, it might only be for an hour or less. 

On the other hand

Oversleeping isn’t a good thing. 

Sleeping 10 to 12 hours may be an indication of an illness. 

Oversleeping has been linked to diabetes and heart disease, among others. 

It’s important to note

Oversleeping could also be linked to seasonal affective disorder or SAD.

Let’s talk about SAD

So, seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that is temporary and related to the changing season. 

SAD, though, refers to one’s depression during the winter more. 

When the climate is hot, it’s usually called summertime SAD or reverse SAD. 

In most cases

SAD starts in the fall and will affect people all throughout winter. 

That’s why winter blues is a thing. 

How do you know if you have SAD?

It’s the feeling of depression during most parts of the day and happening every day. 

This means that one will lose interest in things they usually do. 

For example

There might be a frequency in calling in sick for work. 

Not only that, the person might bail on their family and friends a lot of times. 

Other symptoms of SAD:

  • Low Energy
  • Sluggish
  • Cannot concentrate on things
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Eating a lot of carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Oversleeping

There it is!

Oversleeping.

Person sleeping with eye mask on

The thing with winter is that there is less sunlight because daytime is shorter. The lack of sunlight makes people sluggish. 

As a result

Someone might oversleep. It’s one thing when this happens once or twice. 

But if you have been oversleeping for days or weeks, then you might have winter SAD. 

Here’s the deal

The reduction of sunlight could disrupt a person’s circadian rhythm. 

This is your natural body clock that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. 

That cycle could be disrupted come winter, which is why there is also a change in your sleep schedule. 

Moving on

The reduction of sunlight will also cause the drop in a person’s level of serotonin, which is a hormone that can improve a person’s mood. 

Some people call this hormone the happy chemical. 

In essence

If there is a drop in serotonin, a person can feel depressed. 

This would lead to lack of energy. As such, a person will stay in bed for a long time and would eventually fall back to sleep. 

Plus

When it’s cold out, you prefer to just sleep rather than be active outside. 

Further

The lack of sunlight can also lead to a melatonin imbalance. 

Melatonin is the hormone that balances a person’s sleep-wake cycle. 

As a matter of fact

Melatonin is a common treatment for insomnia. 

Insomnia, though, is more commonly experienced among people with summertime SAD. 

As opposed to winter SAD

Reverse SAD is caused by too much sunlight. 

As a result, people would have difficulty sleeping as they might have too much energy.

Another indication is this:

The person might lose weight, which is directly correlated with the loss of appetite caused by reverse SAD. 

There is also agitation and anxiety. 

Did you notice?

Whether you are experiencing winter or summer SAD, it is directly related to sleep. 

There is a tendency to oversleep with winter SAD and insomnia may be prevalent when it comes to reverse SAD. 

That’s because:

People who sleep well will have a better quality of life. 

Happy couple in bedroom

How to Treat SAD


The good thing about SAD is that it’s temporary. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do something about it. 

You should!

If you are depressed, even if it’s just a short period of time, it will have a large impact on everything in your life. 

You could damage your career or destroy your relationship with other people. 

So, what should you do?

Here are the four things you could do:

Psychotherapy

It’s always good to talk to someone about what is bothering you. 

You could approach friends but it’s always best to seek a specialist on this matter. 

Psychiatrist vs psychologist

A psychologist helps a person cope with their feelings.

A psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a medical doctor. They diagnose illness and provide treatment. 

To put it simply

Only psychiatrists can prescribe medication. 

It’s important that you see a professional when you are feeling depressed because it could be more than just SAD. 

The thing is

You may have bipolar disorder, which is also determined by a person’s change in mood during the change in the season. 

Medication

Remember that it is up to the psychiatrist to prescribe medication for you. 

So, don’t try to self-medicate. It may just worsen your situation. 

Spilt bottle of pills, close-up

Now, some doctors

They will prescribe the next treatment:

Phototherapy

This is a form of treatment using a light therapy lamp. 

Light therapy uses artificial light in order to treat SAD. 

As earlier mentioned

Sunlight is important, hence, reduction of exposure to sunlight could lead to SAD. 

Overexposure to sunlight may also lead to reverse SAD. 

When it comes to winter

Since you don’t get enough sun because of the reduction of daylight, you need to fill your recommended sunlight exposure with artificial light. 

This is where the light therapy lamp comes in. 

It’s no ordinary lamp

It has to have 10,000 lux intensity. 

You basically get the sunlight you need without the UV radiation. 

Person with head on pillow

Get enough sleep

Of course, this may be beyond your control. 

If you have SAD, then you might have trouble sleeping–either you get more than necessary or you have insomnia. 

But if you can

You should definitely get between seven and nine hours of sleep. 

There are just so many benefits to getting the right amount of sleep. 

There’s another way

You may visit a sleep specialist. 

A somnologist can get to the bottom of your sleeping troubles. The specialist can also provide treatments to the problem. 


Notes About SAD


Those living in countries with winter are prone to SAD. 

About one to two percent of the population experience SAD. Unfortunately, women are more prone to experience it. 

The problem is

When you have SAD or depression, in general, it doesn’t just affect you. 

For one, it could get you in trouble with work. 

How?

You might start calling in sick at work. 

Doing it once may be fine but doing it many times a week could lead to losing your job. 

Not only that

You could lose your job and your friends. 

When it comes to depression–temporary or otherwise–there is a tendency that you might neglect your friends. 

Especially with winter SAD

Since you don’t have the energy, there is a distinct possibility that you would try to escape get-togethers.

Or worse, you might forget your friends’ special days. 

On the part of your family

You might also hurt them. 

You know how it is, your family always wants the best for you. 

Sometimes, though, when you’re depressed, you wouldn’t accept help from anybody. 

That’s why

If you are feeling depressed for days, it’s best to see a professional to help you deal with it. 

Failing to deal with SAD could lead to worse consequences. 

Or

You could start by sleeping well. 

Woman lying on the bed, smiling

Summary


Are you having the winter blues? It could be something more serious like the seasonal affective disorder. You should know, seasonal affective disorder and sleep are closely related. If you have trouble sleeping or having insomnia, it’s a symptom of depression. Oversleeping is the same thing. 

SAD or seasonal affective disorder and sleep are interlinked. SAD can be caused by the lack of sunlight since winter is characterized by the reduction of daylight. This circumstance could affect a person’s circadian rhythm or the biological clock. This is the body’s sleep-wake cycle. 

Don’t worry, there are treatments to SAD. One such treatment is to get enough sleep. And if you are not getting it, a professional can help you get it. You can also do some phototherapy, which makes use of artificial light with an intensity of 10,000 lux. This is a way to get enough sunlight in your system. 

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