What Are Morning Blues?
The term “morning blues” is an idiom that describes a low feeling in the morning experienced by a number of people when they wake up. Morning blues generally refers to a state of mind or mood related to the time of the day.
While morning blues is not clinical depression per se, a person with clinical depression may experience the low feeling even more intensely. Morning depression is also associated with people who have melancholia, a depressive disorder.1
Why Do Morning Blues Happen?
General morning blues happen to a lot of people especially those living in colder climes. Our bodies have an internal 24-hour clock which makes us sleepy at night and awake and alert in the daytime. This sleep-wake cycle is called the ‘circadian rhythm’. The circadian rhythm regulates body states like heartbeat, body temperature, energy, alertness and mood.
This circadian rhythm is closely associated with hormones like cortisol and melatonin which are responsible for the sleep-wake cycle. Cortisol levels rise in the daytime to keep us awake and alert. The melatonin levels rise at night to prepare us for rest. Any disruption in this hormone cycle can lead to morning blues. If cortisol levels do not rise in time, people experience low energy, low emotions and inability to get into action in the mornings.2
While cortisol levels take some time to kick in after waking up, chronic morning blues should be checked out by an endocrinologist who will test your hormone levels.
Morning Blues: Normal Or Not?
A little bit of morning blues is normal for everyone. After a night’s sleep and rest, the body takes some time to gear up into action and adjust the hormone levels to prepare for the day’s activities. It is normal to feel a little low and lethargic immediately upon waking up.
However, for most people this feeling wears off as they go about routine morning activities. One needs to be concerned only if, this low feeling coupled with low energy continues into late morning and spreads over the day.
Tackling Morning Blues
If you are experiencing the morning blues on a regular basis, you can take some proactive steps to positively beat it . Understand that the dip in cortisol in the morning leads to morning blues until the body adjusts the hormone level. There is nothing to worry as the body automatically balances out the hormones to face the day.
- Getting up early is actually an anxiety-alleviating tip. The reason is because it gives you more time to do things which you would normally rush for if you don’t have sufficient time.3
- Yoga has always been hailed as a stress-busting, mood-uplifting form of exercise which can detox and regulate cortisol. Practising yoga regularly could alleviate the symptoms of morning blues by a significant degree.4
- Sleeping-in late on the weekend also causes a fluctuation in the circadian rhythm. In fact, delaying sleep on Sunday night can cause daytime sleepiness and fatigue, the so-called ‘Monday morning blues in the consecutive days.5
- It is said that light aids in better body functioning. It is, therefore, recommended that you turn off lights in your room and get more sunlight to mitigate that early-morning slump.
- Reduce caffeine intake as it tends to increase the release of insulin in the blood. The rise in insulin lowers the blood sugar level. When you have low blood sugar levels, you begin to feel depressed or zapped out of energy levels, leading to the blues or depression.6
- Make sure to eat a balanced dinner at night. Overeating and loading up on fast food and junk can upset your digestion interfering with your metabolic rate. An increased metabolic rate means your body is using more energy for digestion which, in turn, impacts the overall adjustment in hormone levels. You may wake up feeling low with no energy and a feeling of heaviness from last night’s dinner.
- Give your eyes some green on waking up. Look at the fresh foliage of trees and the green leaves. This can instantly enhance your mood and prep you for the day.
If you feel the morning blues are spilling over for a longer time than usual, get medical help to check out hormone imbalances or other possible causes.
|↑1||Melancholic depression, Black Dog Institute, 2013.|
|↑2||Wirz-Justice, Anna. “Diurnal variation of depressive symptoms.” Dialogues Clin Neurosci 10.3 (2008): 337-343.|
|↑3||How to Reduce Your Cortisol and Kiss Your Morning Stress Goodbye, One Green Planet, 2014.|
|↑4||Thirthalli, J., et al. “Cortisol and antidepressant effects of yoga.” Indian journal of psychiatry 55.7 (2013): 405.|
|↑5||Taylor, Amanda, Helen R. Wright, and Leon C. Lack. “Sleeping‐in on the weekend delays circadian phase and increases sleepiness the following week.” Sleep and Biological Rhythms 6.3 (2008): 172-179.|
|↑6||The Blues and Depression What You Can Do To Overcome Them, Kansas State University|