Have you ever noticed that you feel a little down in the winter months? Have you noticed your energy levels take a nosedive when the only sunlight you feel is on your cheeks as you hurry from the parking lot into the office on a cold winter day?
You Need Light for Energy
Darkness is as much of a stress on your body as poor food choices. Your cells thrive on bright light and make energy much more efficiently under those conditions. This is why most people feel so much better during the summer months.
Sunlight and strong incandescent light stimulate the mitochondria in each cell to produce energy. Darkness and fluorescent light, on the other hand, cause the mitochondria to shrink and slow down energy production.
When energy production slows down, adrenaline—a stress hormone—is produced. Adrenaline stimulates your liver to release stored sugar and also encourages fat cells to release fat into circulation in order to help produce energy. High levels of adrenaline can cause many side effects, such as anxiety, nervousness, cravings, fatigue and insomnia.
The darkness of winter can also increase another stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol has the ability to break down your muscle tissue and store fat around your mid-section. This is not a good thing!
Get Outside & Light Up the Inside
Make your best effort to get outside and expose your skin to sunlight for at least 20 minutes daily. In the winter months, or if you live in a climate in which the weather regularly presents a challenge to getting outside, try adding light to your indoor environment in order to keep your energy production up and stress hormones down.
There are many different types of lights that will help get you through the winter. The easiest way to do this is to make a “Chicken Light,” i.e., a bright incandescent light under a hood (see photos). All you need to make a Chicken Light—sometimes used to brood baby chicks—is a 250-watt 3 -way incandescent bulb and a metal hood. These items can be purchased at your local hardware store for under $10 total.
This is a very bright light, so you do not want it shining directly on your face. Instead, you want to be sitting in the presence of the bright light. I have clipped mine to the ceiling tiles in my office, and below is a picture of it clipped to the air conditioner at my home office. I have it plugged in whenever I am sitting at my desk or reading a book. Some days I only use it a couple of hours, while others I have it on all day. Many of my clients that do not have the option of sitting during the day use it at night before bed while reading, or in the morning while eating breakfast.
The Stress of Darkness
In winter, there is cumulative damage to the mitochondria because of too few daylight hours to complete the rebuilding of mitochondria.
Cortisol begins to rise as soon as there is darkness, regardless of sleep or waking. Artificial light, and its absence, clearly can determine the time at which cortisol begins to rise. Dr. Ray Peat – Generative Energy