There’s A Reason For That Spring In Your Step

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Photo by Mihály Köles on UnsplashCan you feel that? I can. But I can’t describe it.

It’s somewhere between a tinge of excitement and elated joy. It’s anticipatory and present at the same time. It’s a satisfied grin, a certain bounce in my step.

Or, should I say, a certain “spring” in my step.

That’s it! It’s spring.

Disregard the fact the weather still thinks it’s winter. It’s not the precipitation that matters, it’s the daylight.

The sun is a wonderful orb of churning ionic plasma. It radiates exuberance. You might prefer to call it “heat.”

Whatever it’s referred to as, it’s an embracing warmth as opposed to a blanketing warmth. It’s not a weighted blanket that holds you down. It’s the warm water of a heated pool, the sort of freedom you want to dive into.

It is, ultimately, the sun, or, more appropriately, the daylight.

Have you ever walked into a well-lit room only to shut your eyes because it’s so bright? I’ve got news for you. It’s not that bright. In fact, even a rainy day is 100 times brighter. A cloudless sunny day? That’s 1,500 times brighter than your “bright” artificially lit room.

What does all that sunlight do? It not only bathes you in warmth, it triggers the synthesis of Vitamin D and the release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is the opposite of melatonin, which is produced at night and helps you sleep.

Serotonin, on the other hand, calms you, makes you more focused, and boosts your mood. In other words, it puts a spring in your step.

Without enough serotonin, you can become dull if not depressed. There’s actually a name for this. It’s called “seasonal affective disorder” or, more fittingly, “SAD.” Yes, that’s why you can get those winter doldrums everyone is always talking about.

Incidentally, daylight may impact on your sleep cycle. Scientists describe this as your chronotype. Your chronotype measures how your internal clock relates to the external clock (i.e., the 24-hour day). If your internal clock is shorter than the external clock, you are said to be an “early chronotype.” This makes you wake up earlier and go to sleep earlier.

If your internal clock is longer than the external clock, you’re called a “late chronotype.” Most people fall into this category. They tend to sleep later and go to bed later.

Here’s something funny. You know your teenager who you keep calling “lazy” because he sleeps late? Well, boo on you. It’s not your teenager’s fault. It’s biology.

As a young child, you typically are an early chronotype, but that lengthens as you age to become an extreme late chronotype. This peaks in your teenage years. You likely remain a late chronotype the rest of your life, just not as extreme as during your teenage years.

Where you end up on the chronotype scale has more to do with genetics than the amount of daylight you experience.

Here’s the odd thing (for me, at least). Yes, I find daylight conducive to creative thinking. I’ve always liked to write with a big window in front of me. And not just any window. But a window which shows the expanse of the sky. This inspires. It lets my imagination run wild.

The best window in my house used to be the bay window in my bedroom. It’s where I sat one particularly cold winter as day transitioned into night. The frigid red sun was setting onto the horizon when a thought occurred to me. I wrote it down: “It is a cold sun that casts long shadows.”

Think about it. It’s true. It has to do with the way the Earth tilts on its axis. I explained this to my coworker the next day at work. The one who sat in the cubicle next to me. The one that thought I was a computer geek (not wrong). Her eyes rolled in predictable fashion when I explained the science behind the quote. But she did like the poetry of the line, so she wrote it down and pinned it above her desk.

When she left the job years later, she gave me the piece of paper with the quote on it. She figured, since it was my quote, I may as well keep it. Besides, she was leaving and wasn’t looking to take more than she needed. I pinned that note above my desk (along with other pieces of paper with quotes from famous people).

I still have that hand-written “It is a cold sun that casts long shadows” note. That was an inspired quote made possible by the big bay window in my bedroom. But that was before the tree grew high enough to block it. And we replaced my desk with a love seat. Oh well.

Ironically, I want no exterior vistas when I do my day job. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I do math better when I don’t have any distractions.

Now, here’s the oddest thing. Late at night, especially when there’s a full moon, something strange happens. No, I don’t grow hair on my shoulders (it’s already there), but I find myself able to throw myself into all kinds of work. It could be writing. It could be spreadsheets. Heck, it could even be video games. On those evenings, melatonin has no chance with me.

Still, there’s something to be said about longer days (and moving the clock ahead an hour). It’s invigorating. Indeed, the very feeling inspired this article. And it was rainy all day. Just imagine how much longer this piece would have been had it been a clear sunny day!


  1. […] jig isn’t up, it’s in your trot. Do you know why? Read this week’s Carosa Commentary “There’s A Reason For That Spring In Your Step” and discover the secret of the […]

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