A dark day is a day when you think you’ll get no sleep, but you really do.
The night before the holidays, for instance, may seem like an ideal day for the family to have a holiday getaway, but a dark night could be the beginning of a bad memory.
“The brain is in a state of heightened arousal,” says John P. Wray, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.
“When we have a dark mood, the prefrontal cortex becomes activated.
That’s when you’re not thinking clearly, you’re distracted.
The prefrontal cortex is a key part of executive function.”
If you are worried about a dark future, you might try to think of the last time you had a good night’s sleep, P.W. says.
“Think of that time as the worst possible time to be having a dark dream.
You’re thinking about something negative, and that’s what the brain is doing.”
It’s important to remember that the brain has a built-in ability to deal with the loss of sleep, so even if you’re a dark sleeper, it’s not the end of the world.
“Darkness isn’t a problem,” says Wray.
“It’s an adaptive trait.”
If your mood is dark, you probably are experiencing an anxiety disorder.
If it’s light, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the demands of the day.
If you are unsure, it may be helpful to get help.
“In most cases, anxiety is caused by problems in the brain, which can result from a range of disorders, including attention disorders, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders and substance abuse,” says Dr. Nancy C. Johnson, M., clinical associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
“If you have a severe or pervasive anxiety disorder, you should talk with a doctor about taking steps to reduce your risk of developing an anxiety-related disorder.”
To learn more about depression and anxiety, visit www.npr.org or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).