Monday, November 15, 2021

Daylight Savings Time and Mental Health

mohamed_hassan via Pixabay

This evening, as I was sitting on my sofa watching Dancing with the Stars and trying to decide whether I should finish tomorrow's class prep and then write a blog post or vice versa, an ad for tomorrow's local news came on. I usually mute the commercials, but had not done so for this break and so I caught the teaser for a feature on mental health and daylight savings time.

Really? Is that a thing? 

Turns out it is. I knew the extra hour of sleep messes with our body clocks and that the long-term light-to-darkness ratio that results from changing the clocks is a bummer. I also knew that health issues increased and that less light could be problematic for those with seasonal affective disorder but, beyond that, I hadn't really considered the fact that there could be a mental health impact.

Yes, I teach psychology. I guess I just got all excited about that extra hour of sleep and didn't want to ask too many questions lest it disappear.

But, come to think of it, my students have been less lively, particularly today (a gloomy Monday in my neck of the woods). A friend whose anxiety is usually reasonably well-controlled has felt old symptoms return with a vengeance. And it never seems to be the time I think it should be.


Still, these are just observations, not conclusive evidence (there's that "teaching psychology" thing again). But, if you're still feeling a little "off" a week after the time change, it might be nice to know that you're not alone. Feeling tired and "off" can have that effect, especially when the time on the clock changes but everything else in life (like the hours we work) remains the same. It might also help to know that this too, shall pass. In the meantime, here are a few suggestions for getting past those challenging first few weeks.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I need a nap.

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