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A woman is reflected in a pool of water, left by recent rains. While it has been gloomy recently, clearer days are in the forecast.
A woman is reflected in a pool of water, left by recent rains. While it has been gloomy recently, clearer days are in the forecast. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
A woman is reflected in a pool of water, left by recent rains. While it has been gloomy recently, clearer days are in the forecast.
A woman is reflected in a pool of water, left by recent rains. While it has been gloomy recently, clearer days are in the forecast. (Michael Abrams / S&S)
Darmstadt's art nouveau Wedding Tower, decked in holiday-style, is reflected in a puddle left by recent rains.
Darmstadt's art nouveau Wedding Tower, decked in holiday-style, is reflected in a puddle left by recent rains. (Michael Abrams / S&S)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — With seemingly nonstop rain and only about eight hours between sunrise and sunset each day this month, is it really the season to be jolly?

The weather has been downright Scrooge-ish. It’s rained every day but two so far this month in the Kaiserslautern/Ramstein area, according to Air Force Capt. Matthew Hauke at the 21st Operational Weather Squadron. It’s not even halfway through December, and the Kaiserslautern area is close to reaching its monthly precipitation average of 2.1 inches, Hauke said.

“It’s been a little wetter than normal,” he said, referring to both Germany and the Benelux areas.

If the weather and lack of daylight are giving you a touch of the humbugs, you’re not alone.

“We know that there is such a thing as a seasonal affective impact on mood, and that decreased light does impact people’s mood,” said Army Capt. Shawn P. Gallagher, a nurse practitioner in psychiatry at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

That also goes for people who have no history of depression and the like.

“Even people that — for the lack of a better word — have a clean slate can experience a little less energy, a blah mood or a more bland mood … that does happen with decreased sunlight,” Gallagher said.

Today in Kaiserslautern, the sun rises at 8:15 a.m. and sets at 4:30 p.m. That’s just a little more than eight hours with the sun above the horizon. Because of its higher latitude, Germany’s winter days are much shorter when compared with winter days in the U.S.

Some theories exist on why a lack of sunlight can put you in a funk.

One is that a decrease in light can throw off your circadian rhythms — your internal body clock — and that can alter patterns of bodily functions.

Another theory links a lack of daylight to a decrease in your body’s production of serotonin, a chemical that helps regulate mood and behavior, among other functions.

Yet another theory states that, with longer periods of darkness, your body makes more melatonin, and an overabundance of melatonin can make you feel drowsy or down.

But if you feel down or blue for more than two weeks, you should seek professional help, Gallagher said. Signs include a lack of interest in things you normally like, a decrease in energy, a change in appetite or a lack of ability to concentrate.

To have a happy holiday season, there are a few things you can do. Gallagher recommends exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, minimizing caffeine and alcohol intake and maintaining a ritualized wake/sleep cycle.

“There’s no smoking gun, but there are a bunch of these things for folks to do to get you through that time period,” he said.

Better weather would help, too, and that’s exactly what’s in the forecast.

A high-pressure system should improve the wet situation toward the end of the week.

“It looks like the overall weather pattern will change in the next few days, bringing drier and cooler weather,” Hauke said.

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