The days are getting shorter, but before you get all down and depressed about the long nights, there are actually a few reasons why you should love darkness. From boosting your fitness to improving your mood, here are five we like.
It makes you feel faster
If you’re a runner, head out on a dark evening, keep your speed the same and you’ll feel like you’re flying. According to Ira Hyman, Professor of Psychology at Western Washington University, at night we can only see things that are close. This changes our perception of speed and makes us feel as if we’re moving faster than we are. It can also give you a boost of confidence – and encourage you to go faster than you would normally. Remember the boost next time you run in the daytime though, or you might wonder why your feet are dragging.
It could help you lose weight
Most simply, people who go to bed early eat on average 1040kJ less than night owls, shows a study. There’s also evidence that being exposed to low levels of light at night might negatively alter the way you metabolise food. Ohio State University researcher Laura Fonken found that mice exposed to light at night (and therefore nibbling at odd times of day) gained 50 per cent more weight than those sleeping in a dark room, even with the same kilojoule intake and activity. It’s as if their metabolism didn’t work as well. “Studies have also shown that changing when people eat can also influence the way they metabolise food,” she says.
It makes staying in appealing
And according to Chinese medicine, that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be doing at this time of year. “Our bodies should mimic that of other animals and plants and we should be conserving energy right now,” says holistic health coach Kylie Patchett. She suggests making the most of dark nights by staying home and reflecting a little. “Check in with your life; see what you’re happy with and what you’re not and plan how to change things in spring when your energy restores.”
It may revive your romance
US studies show that after power outages and poor weather, birth rates go up – and dark nights also encourage sofa snuggling. Just be aware if things do get a bit smoochy though, darkness also seems to aid fertility. When researchers at the Family Planning Program at Sacred Heart Medical Centre, Spokane, Washington asked 48 women with fertility issues to block all light from their bedroom, 26 of them conceived.
It makes for happy teenagers
Find more reasons to love winter in the July issue of Good Health magazine or subscribe at magshop.co.nz.