Eight hundred fifteen miles. On a planet that is nearly 25,000 miles around, that doesn't seem like a lot, but during this time of year, it could mean up to an hour less of sunlight.

As soon as Daylight Saving Time ended, the state of Iowa was plunged into night before most people clock out from work, and I am NOT used to it. It gets much darker much earlier here than it did in my home state of Louisiana, and that 815 miles is to blame.

I'm not gonna go into all the science surrounding the tilt of the earth and the distance from the sun and all that hooey, but what I will talk about is the real affect that less sunlight during the early Fall and Winter months has on people. It's called Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it affects millions of people every year.

According to Wikipedia:

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also called winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, and seasonal depression, is a mood disorder subset in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the winter.

Causes are still a mystery, but the fact that there is less sunlight and we aren't as active in the winter months is thought to be a factor. The further from the equator, the worse it can be.

There are some ways to possibly treat and prevent SAD. The Mayo Clinic suggests light therapy, medications, and (in the case of severe depression) psychotherapy.

As winter lurches closer, let's all keep an eye on each other. Maybe even a friendly smile and a cup of hot cocoa could cast aside that SAD even for just a few minutes. Then the 30 Days of Night might not be such a bummer.