lethargic_man: (Default)
Thursday was a beautiful sunny day, but I didn't cycle to work as it was my work Christmas party (on which I intended to be drinking). A couple of people had suggested walking to the party venue (Tower Bridge, very interesting), but after they dropped out from that, I decided it would be unsociable walking by myself, and in any case, my pockets were heavily laden down (with kosher wine to go with the Hermolis meal I'd be eating, and spending the next year digesting), so I took a taxi and got only a few minutes' sunlight.

Mistake. By Thursday evening I was feeling rather down, and in need of propping my emotional state up with the Tom and Jerry DVD I got for this very purpose. (I'm going to have to do better at managing with this once my mother has died and Tom and Jerry is out.) On Friday morning I was no better. It was another beautiful sunny day, but I was taking the train up to see my parents, so not cycling again. So I plonked myself down on the balcony at work and worked outside for three quarters of an hour (including a couple of minutes running my hands under hot water halfway through to warm them back up).

I'd tried doing that for fifteen minutes a few days earlier, but without success; fifteen minutes was evidently too short a time. (It was also as long as I could stand on a cycling day, on which I didn't have a coat. I didn't realise why the Gogol Bordello song "My Compañera" was going through my head until after I'd gone back in: the lyrics include "Then hypothermia took over"!)

The result on Friday, though, was striking. Between the sunlight and the music I was listening to, I went from feeling very down to regretting (because the sun was finally pulling clear of the hazy clouds and warming up) that I had to come in afterwards (to get my train). I think I ought to take some thick clothes to work to leave there in the winter for cycling days...
lethargic_man: (Default)
As regular readers will know, I've been getting up early in winter for the last (crikey!) eight years now so I can cycle to and from work in the daylight and stave off SAD.

The first year I stopped doing it after the midwinter break (i.e. Limmud), as I couldn't be bothered to restart. After about three weeks, I found myself getting depressed, not for no reason, but not for any reason that hadn't been there beforehand. I decided to resume getting up early and see if it would have any effect. I thought my depression might lift after a few days, but, much to my surprise, it vanished overnight.

Last Tuesday evening I found myself getting depressed. I'd cycled to and from work and the start and end of the day so far that week, but on three of those occasions it was heavily overcast and the light levels were low. On Tuesday afternoon, it cleared up, but I only got ten minutes' cycling home done before sunset (due to spending half an hour waiting to meet someone who had forgotten to put the appointment in her diary, and was working from home that day, grrr!). On Wednesday it was forecast to be bright and sunny, so I made the effort to cycle a third day running, which I don't normally do, and lo and behold again my mood lifted immediately.

Later that week, I was talking about this with Giles, who orks my cattle, and he made some assertions, following (as I discovered when I later asked him) both recently reading an article, and talking with a doctor, on the subject, that the Wikipedia page for SAD does not mention, but which bear out my observations and hypotheses, to wit:
  • It doesn't take much bright light to do the job. (He said ten minutes; I think, from Tuesday evening a week ago, it must be a bit more, but perhaps not much: I don't get more than fifteen minutes exposure to light on a Tube journey to work.)
  • Every time you stop being exposed to bright light, your mood starts declining. This is why commuting to work in full daylight but home in full darkness would still leave me down in the evenings, but commuting both ways before/after the light has quite achieved full intensity does not.
  • Clear blue skies and even sunlight through windows has no effect. This might partly be due to the window tinting in my office, but I suspect is more because windows filter out UV-A (the frequencies that tan you)... though not, as I recall [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel wryly telling me, UV-B, the frequencies that give you sunburn.
This is why I really wanted to cycle on Tuesday; after my conversation with Giles on the subject, I decided to go and work on the balcony at work for a bit (alternate link for anyone without permission to follow the first one), despite the cold.

I think I might end up doing this a bit more during the winter, at least whilst the weather is warm enough to type outside with bare fingers, if the only good light is during the middle of the day—or it's too difficult to try and make the time up given that I have to leave early at present to catch the sunset.
lethargic_man: (Default)
This time last year after cycling home one day in darkness, I promptly put myself back on BST so I could continue "cycling home in the last dregs of daylight". This year I've been getting up an hour early already, and cycling home in full daylight. If I want to continue this, I'm going to have to jump already to getting up an hour and a half early, which means going to bed at quarter past ten. (Either that, or start docking myself half of my lunchbreak, or switch already to long Tube and short cycling working days.)

I know I'll appreciate it, as the extra daylight staves off the SAD, but, frankly, the prospect daunts. Which it shouldn't, really, as with no Marom events since before the High Holydays, there's no reason to stop me from going to bed at that time...
lethargic_man: (Default)
Up and into work an hour and a half early today, so I can cycle home again in daylight again...

Sumer is icumen back!

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005 08:41 am
lethargic_man: (Default)
I'm back on BST today. Got to work at 8:27, and, provided I can get myself out of the building on time, shall be cycling home in the last dregs of daylight.

It won't last, but I'm going to enjoy it whilst I can.

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