CHENNAI: A rainy day usually means a lazy day. That’s a given. But for a good number of the city’s office-going populace, the unrelenting monsoon showers affect more than just one’s ability to get to work on time — they hinder people from getting out of bed.
According to Dr N Ramakrishnan, senior consultant in sleep medicine, and director at Nithra Institute of Sleep Sciences, this behaviour is scientifically proven to only increase as the gloomy clouds continue to loom overhead. The reason is fairly simple, he explains, “The biggest stimulant to sleep is darkness, which is when the body secretes melatonin.”
In parts of the world like the UK, where it rains through the year, the medical community even has a term for it, with a rather appropriate acronym — SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder. And you may have the symptoms even without realising it.
“It starts off with something as simple as wanting to sleep in a little longer,” says Dr Ramakrishnan. “In more advanced cases, the pattern that we see during the Margazhi month covers everything from a lack in productivity to mood swings and depression.”
City Express reached out to working residents who are required to rise early to get to work. While most find themselves just about ‘managing’ to make it to their workplaces on time, a majority admit that the grey skies are increasingly colouring their moods as well.
“I have to force myself to get up and get dressed these days,” says C R Bharath, a chartered accountant who usually has no trouble rising at 7am. Over the last couple of weeks however, he’s hit the snooze button well past that ‘extra 10 minutes’ and even tells us his procrastination levels have increased thanks to the monsoon blues. “I keep checking my watch, waiting for 5pm, so I can wind up earlier, even if it means I carry a backlog into the next day,” he adds.
Tying in with Dr Ramakrishnan’s ‘darkness stimulates sleep’ theory, software consultant Anand D observes that we don’t realise how much longer we are sleeping in, because the sun is nowhere to be seen. “Usually I set my alarm for 7:30am and wake up at 8am,” Anand says. “But the other day, I was shocked to see my alarm clock read 8:45 am, and I didn’t realise it because it was still so dark outside,” he says.
Perhaps the only office-goers whom the SAD syndrome has failed to induce its symptoms over are those who are obliged to ‘swipe in’ well before the sun is up. Karthick*, a manager at a gym in Alwarpet opens the gym as early as 5:30am. Showing up a few minutes late would mean keeping clients waiting, and as a result, a double shift to remedy the tardiness. “So I wake up at 4:30 am and except for braving the rain, everything is the same. In my case, if the sun is up before me, it means a reason to stay in bed a little longer — before I get a shelling from my boss!” he laughs.
Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
- Feeling like sleeping more than usual
- Inability to perform at work with the same vigour
- Mood disorders and depression
Brighten up your Mornings
- If you are aware of the change in weather affecting your sleep patterns or mood, sleep experts say it is possible to change the way you feel by altering your environment a little bit.
- Introducing sources of soft yellow light in a previously dark bedroom could substitute natural sunlight
- An alarm clock with neon numbers may help as well