‘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:

  • Low energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Craving carbs, overeating, and gaining weight
  • Irritability and moodiness

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

Canned tuna

Egg yolks

Mushrooms (cooked)

Tryptophan Rich Foods

Whole Dairy Milk

Canned tuna

Bananas, apples, prunes


Turkey, Chicken

Serotonin Rich Foods

Nuts, seeds



Dark green leafy veggies

Soy products, tofu

Melatonin-Rich Foods


Tart cherries

Fatty Fish

Goji berries

Mushrooms, cooked

Magnesium-Rich Foods

Pumpkin, Chia seeds

Cashews, Peanuts



Potassium-Rich Foods

Dried apricots, raisins

Beans, Lentils


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.


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