This Sunday, November 6 at 2am, we’ll be saying farewell to Daylight Savings Time (remember to set your clocks and coffee makers accordingly). While gaining an hour seems at first glance to be a great deal, this time switch can have a negative impact on our mood and overall health.
Whether we’re falling back or springing forward, changing the clocks means that the principal time cue has been adjusted – light. And when we fall back we DO gain and hour of sleep in the morning (yay) but also lose an hour of sunlight each day (not so “yay”).
Losing an hour of daylight means that your body releases a sleep inducing substance called melatonin when it’s too early to actually go to sleep. That can lead to an overall feeling of fatigue. For some it can even trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to seasonal changes.
According to sleep specialist and neurologist Dr. Chris Winter one of the ways to beat the winter blues is by sticking to your regular sleep schedule both on the weekend and during the workweek. He suggests that “If you’re sleepy at night, but it’s not time to go to bed, expose yourself to a more brightly lit environment. If you’re struggling to fall asleep, make sure to avoid bright lights in the evenings. Keep them dim and soft.”
Additional you can up your “sleep hygiene” to compensate for the loss of daylight hours. The National Sleep Foundation defines sleep hygiene as “a variety of different practices that are necessary to have normal, quality nighttime sleep and full daytime alertness. “
Basic sleep hygiene includes:
How changing the clock affects you is closely connected to your health, habits, and lifestyle. So if you want to ensure that changing the clocks this year doesn’t throw your body off track, make sure your overall health is up to par. And if not, it’s not too early (or late) for a new year’s resolution for better health!