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Spring fatigue: the right dose of light at the right time is the best therapy


Light is the best therapy for spring tiredness

According to experts, around a quarter of Germans suffer from spring fatigue. Affected people hardly ever get out of bed in the morning and they suffer from chronic fatigue during the day. There is also a pronounced need for sleep. But how do you get fit for spring? Best with light therapy, says a specialist.

When the body feels like lead

It is still too cold for the time of year, but when the sun is shining, you immediately feel like doing more outdoors again: going for a walk, riding a bike and enjoying the sun is simply part of spring. But with some things, the body just doesn't pull along properly. Getting up is particularly difficult, the body feels like lead, hardly arrived in the bathroom with difficulty, you just want to go back to bed. According to the sleep medicine doctor and psychologist Werner Cassel from Marburg, around a quarter of the population feels the so-called spring tiredness. But what helps against that? The best light, says the expert. Because the right dose of it at the right time can act like a drug.

There are several reasons for spring fatigue

How can you overcome spring tiredness? And where does it come from?

The Universitätsklinikum Gießen und Marburg GmbH (UKGM) explains these questions in a communication published by the "Informationsdienst Wissenschaft" (idw).

There are several reasons for spring fatigue: For millions of years, evolution has programmed humans and animals to put on a thicker and therefore warming fat layer for the cold months, and we still do that today:

The delicious goose for Christmas, chocolate and cookies serve this purpose. In addition, in the dark season we move much less outdoors because it is often uncomfortable outside and it gets dark much earlier.

"We eat fatter and thus get fewer vitamins and trace elements," said Cassel from the sleep medicine laboratory at the University of Marburg, "which means that our memory for activities is simply empty. At the same time, spring calls for more exercise and then simply lacks the power. ”

Changing the time makes it even more difficult for those affected

Sleep medicine research knows a second reason: “hibernation”. On average, we sleep 20 to 45 minutes longer in winter.

If we wake up in the morning in front of the alarm clock, we can fall asleep better - simply because it is still dark. For this reason, we usually go to bed earlier in the evening.

However, if it is still light in the evening, we are active longer and in the morning the light wakes us up in front of the alarm clock.

Changing the time to daylight saving time makes it even harder for spring tired people, because now we have to prepare ourselves to get up an hour earlier than our previous rhythm.

Studies from Canada have shown that on the first Monday after the time change, there were eight percent more accidents on the streets because drivers are tired and therefore less concentrated behind the wheel.

"This switch to shorter sleep in spring is a second reason for spring tiredness, which is overcome in most people after about two weeks," explains the sleep doctor.

Light can act like a drug

If you want to be active against spring fatigue and the "jet lag" due to the time change, the best thing to do is prescribe light therapy, advises Cassel:

“Light can act like a drug. Because light promotes the production of serotonin and vitamin D and with the right dose of light at the right time, we can make ourselves fit for an active day as well as for a restful night. ”

The reason for this is the sleep hormone melatonin, which regulates our day-night rhythm. Around 9 p.m., the production of sleep hormone in the body is really boosted and then slowly drops again after 3 a.m.

The less light we get in the evening and at night, the higher the concentration of the hormone that ensures restful sleep.

Candlelight and indirect lighting in the evening are therefore not only cozy, but also ensure a good night's sleep because, in contrast to bright light, they promote melatonin production.

"Even the light of the bright neon tube when brushing your teeth in the evening can be a hindrance," explains the sleep doctor.

Active against spring tiredness

The reverse applies to the day: light stops the production of sleep hormone and makes you fit for the day. You should soak up a lot of light especially in the morning.

So if at all possible, better to cycle to work or at least not park the car in front of the door, but walk a bit. If possible, move breakfast and lunch breaks outside.

According to Cassel, numerous studies have shown: "Light and physical exercise, especially in the morning, promote deep sleep at night."

He explains: “This also means that the transition from daylight to dark should be designed for the body with as much contrast as possible: in the morning, the best thing to do is to raise the blinds and open the windows. Use little and dimmed light in the evening. The right use of light can also combat some sleep disorders. "

In addition to light therapy, other experts say that sports and long walks and alternating showers help to combat spring tiredness. (ad)

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