Spring Fever, Social Jet Lag and Serotonin

Holistic healthcare works on the principle that everything is connected and nothing is separate and works with the whole person and their interaction with the environment as unique, taking into account the mind-body

It is preventative and encourages balance and living in harmony with the environment, to promote and maintain health. Symptoms are seen as helpful, enabling us to tune into and respond to their signals. There is no better way to illustrate how connected we are to our environment, than how our hormones respond to the changes of the seasons as we transition from Winter to Spring.

As we enter Spring and the days are getting longer, the body responds by producing less Melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that we produce more of during the Winter months when the days are shorter, to tell the cells in our body when it is night-time and to help us sleep better and longer. It may take several weeks for the Melatonin levels to drop during the transition to spring. At the same time Serotonin (also known as the happiness hormone) starts to rise, with the opposite effect of Melatonin and brings about increased energy and vitality.

For those who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) with lows or depression during winter, Spring can be a turning point and bring about a lift in mood. The fastest rate of change in daylight hours occurs around the equinox, which this year is on March 20th.

For some the body can become confused for a few weeks, as the two hormones balance. Symptoms that may be experienced as the body catches up, may include headaches, sleepiness, tiredness, joint pain, irritability and distraction. This phenomenon has been called “Spring Fever”.

Chronobiology is the biology of time and our biological (circadian) rhythms in relation to the cycles in nature.
There are 4 rhythms on Earth:
The Tides 12.5 hour cycle
Daylight 24 hour cycle
Lunar 28 day cycle
Annual 365.25 day cycle

Our modern lifestyles lead us to become quite disconnected and insulated from these natural cycles, causing us to override our body’s own natural rhythms, which can lead to biological imbalances and “social jetlag”. This can cause our bodies to feel confused and stressed. Social Jetlag is the difference between what our internal body wants us to do and what the
social culture wants us to do.

For example, in the Winter, 85% of the western adult population set their alarm clock to get up when it is dark, which can be quite unnatural for the rhythm of our body and can interfere with our metabolism and hormones. Also, using computer screens late at night, can lead the body to believe it is still daytime, which affects sleep patterns and consequently our overall health.

We are uniquely individual in our response to daylight and night-time cycles, our so called chronotype. This is known to be due to our genetics. Just as there are extremely tall and short people there are also extremes of chronotypes with the majority in the middle.

Some of us are naturally night owls and others early birds and it is best to honour our inherent natural rhythm. Living in dissonance with this leads to greater risk of health problems. This also changes with age, with 1 year olds and 80 year olds being quite similar in sleep requirements.

Teenagers to 25 year olds are much later in their sleeping and waking hours rather than this being due to laziness. We require clear contrast between daylight and darkness to help regulate our circadian rhythm, to allow for better sleep and enable us to wake more naturally and refreshed for a productive day. It is not possible to receive enough lux (light intensity) from indoor lighting during the day, to provide this contrast. We can instead ensure that we see as much natural daylight during the day and as early in the morning as possible and remove the blue spectrum light after sun-set.

It is a good idea, to adjust the screen brightness settings in your computer system preferences to warmer colours in the evening and there is free software called f.lux, which enables dynamic lighting on your computer, and removes the white-blue parts of spectrum out of the screen at night

Holistic therapies support, empower and enable the individual to tune into the sometimes subtle signals of their body’s natural wisdom, in relation to their environment and understand how they may better support themselves. Reflexology works in this way and is proven to improve sleep patterns and mood. It is thought to do this by bringing the hormones and nerves (neuro-endocrine system) into natural balance, thus improving overall health.

There is also a specific ReproflexologyTM protocol used by specially
trained therapists, to improve hormone balancing for fertility, for couples trying to conceive naturally. Success rates are reported to be 68%. The treatment includes temperature charting to tune into and follow the natural rhythm of the menstrual cycle, enabling assessment of the hormone balance during the cycle to adjust treatment to support pregnancy.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Liver and Gall Bladder are the organs associated with Spring, so it is important to support these too. A simple way to do this can be with Apple Cider Vineger preferably organic from the mother tincture, taking 1-2tsp in a glass of water an hour before food. Cheers !

Written for Macclesfield Local People Magazine April 2018 by

Tracy Mills BSc (Hons, Genetics) MFHT, MAR, PRM, BFRP
Reflexology, Reproflexology, RLD, Bach Flower Remedies, Indian Head Massage.
Treatment rooms in Bollington, Prestbury and mobile to your home.

Tel: 07811 153380

References :

Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired.
Prof. Till Roenneberg ISBN-0: 0674975391
https://justgetflux.com free software
Reflexology for Fertility. Barbara Scott.