How Time Change Affects Your Mood & What to Do About It

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Clock with leaves

Each year, the ending of daylight saving time brings with it a mixed bag of effects. It's nice to get an extra hour of sleep for a night, sure, but throughout the season it can definitely be a downer to experience darkness coming one hour earlier. This is especially true as winter wears on, and the days continue to get shorter. If you feel effects on your mood from the end of daylight savings time, and if you've ever wondered what exactly are the mechanisms at play that cause these disturbances, then read on.

Lack of Vitamin D

Because we tend to spend all of the day's sunlight hours indoors during the fall and winter, this means that by the time we come out of work or school it is typically dark already. This leaves us with less exposure to the sun, and that means our bodies produce less vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has symptoms that can include muscle weakness, pain, fatigue, and yes—low mood and depression. Taking a vitamin D supplement is one day to address this issue.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

The end of daylight saving time has been shown to exacerbate the symptoms of SAD in some people. SAD is a mood disorder in which people feel depression seasonally, usually during the fall and winter months. SAD's cause is related to our body clock, also known as circadian rhythm. Due to the shorter days in fall and winter, our body clock can become disrupted, leading to symptoms of SAD. These symptoms can include feeling sad or depressed, sleeping and eating too much, and even thinking about death or suicide. It can be treated with light therapy (buying a special lamp that emulates the sun), taking a trip to a sunny place in the winter months, going for walks in the morning light, taking medications, or seeking therapy.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)


The End of Daylight Saving Time

While it's true that SAD can come about just because of the gloomy days in winter, especially in the Pacific Northwest, it's important to note that time change in particular plays a large role. A 2016 Danish study found an eight percent rise in cases of depression the days following autumn time change. Søren D. Østergaard, one of the five researchers behind the study, wrote in the group's findings, "We are relatively certain that it is the transition from daylight saving time to standard time that causes the increase in the number of depression diagnoses and not, for example, the change in the length of the day or bad weather."

In addition to the tips already mentioned, it's possible to work to improve your mood in the days following the end of daylight saving time through getting exercise, keeping a regular sleep schedule, and being mindful to eat lean protein instead of the carbs you might be craving. Check out our meal plans today to get your lean protein fix and fight off the effects of time change!