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‘Twas the week after New Year, Annie and LJ were both mad. They hadn’t slept in days and were suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
The holidays were over; the cupboards were bare; they were so sleep-deprived that they didn’t care.
LJ opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling, “I wonder if I’ll ever get over this feeling? I just want to sleep all the night through if only I knew what the heck to do.” He looked over at Annie; her eyes were closed, so he gave her a shake, “good morning, my love. Are you awake?”
Annie nodded her head. “I can no longer fake. I’m not getting enough sleep. I keep wondering, too, what we can take?”
“I don’t want to continue trying to rhyme because we are sounding seriously corny,” laughed a tired LJ, I want to figure out how to help manage what feels like our annual lack of sleep at this time of year.”
“I agree. Usually, we are both energetic until we get to the fall when there’s less sunshine, then our mood changes, and so does our ability to get a good night’s sleep,” she groused.
“Seasonal Affective Disorder is real,” said LJ. “It occurs when less daylight disrupts the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, and serotonin, the energy-boosting hormone which throws off our circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock that regulates our sleep-wake cycle. I’m experiencing all the symptoms of Winter-SAD:
Annie nodded, “now that we know the problem, we can create a solution. We need a plan that helps us fall and stay asleep, so we don’t wind up dragging through the day. One way is to get out into the sun as much as possible. Vitamin D helps produce serotonin and dopamine; low levels of these happy hormones can contribute to seasonal affective disorder. The sun is a natural source of vitamin D. If natural sunlight is not an option, let’s talk with our doctor about using light therapy. It is shown to lessen the effects of SAD.”
“Good idea. Speaking of serotonin. Did you know it is made when tryptophan (an essential amino acid the body does not make but needs) converts to serotonin when eaten in foods rich in tryptophan? Serotonin levels increase in the body when the sun rises to signal it’s time to wake up. Melatonin is the opposite of serotonin. The body produces more when the sun goes down to signal that it is time to sleep. Adequate amounts of each are key to managing SAD.
Many foods have both and other minerals that play a role in regulating sleep. Magnesium is one. Ongoing Insomnia can mean a magnesium deficiency. Potassium also helps you stay asleep.”
“So, what foods should we include in our diet to help reduce the effects of SAD?”
Annie opened her laptop. “I’ve been working on a list.
Vitamin D Rich Foods
Salmon and other fatty fish
Cod Liver Oil
Tryptophan Rich Foods
Whole Dairy Milk
Bananas, apples, prunes
Serotonin Rich Foods
Dark green leafy veggies
Soy products, tofu
Pumpkin, Chia seeds
Dried apricots, raisins
Acorn, butternut squash
Spinach, broccoli, avocado
LJ reviewed the list. “In the words of Jack LaLanne,
Exercise is the king. Nutrition is the queen. Put them together and you have a kingdom.
While the sun is out, let’s walk over to the farmer’s market, my queen.”
Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.
The Food-as-Medicine philosophy is based on the belief that whole food is a traditional remedy with the therapeutic power to improve and maintain one’s health. The philosophy has been around for hundreds of years.Read More