Shifting the Clocks Forward: Strategies to Manage the Mental Impacts of Daylight Savings Time

daylight savings time strategies

Shifting the Clocks Forward: Strategies to Manage the Mental Impacts of Daylight Savings Time

As we adjust to daylight savings time and for the days to become shorter, many of us may find ourselves feeling a bit more tired and stressed than usual. But while the change can be welcomed by some, for others it can have profound effects on their mental health.  In this article, we’ll explore the impacts of daylight savings time on mental health, what we should consider when transitioning to a new routine and how we can adapt in order to maintain positive mental health during this period of change.


Research shows that daylight savings time can lead to decreased productivity and increased anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep deprivation, and general malaise.  Without proper preparation, these potential effects could wreak havoc on our mental wellbeing. Many of the negative impacts stem from a disruption to our sleep patterns, which in turn impact our appetite, mood and hormonal imbalances.  When the clocks move forward, we lose an hour of sleep as we adjust to the additional hour of daylight during the spring and summer months.  With the disruption in normal sleep patterns, it can take several days to acclimate to these changes.  


Studies have shown more specifically that disruption to sleep caused by daylight savings time can reduce alertness, reduce memory capacity and increase fatigue – all factors that can cause or exacerbate mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.  This is because the artificial shift in sleep patterns can disrupt our circadian rhythm, a natural process that controls our body’s sleep and wake cycles.  Shifts in hormonal imbalances may occur when our natural circadian rhythms are interrupted and also contribute to challenges with our mood and irritability.


Fortunately, there are several strategies that we can adopt to reduce the negative impacts of daylight savings time.  To help prevent any potential negative impacts on your mental health caused by daylight savings, we’ve compiled a few tips on how to ease into this seasonal change:


1.Gradual Adjustment

It has been shown that adopting a gradual adjustment in your sleep routine prior to the new time change can reduce the negative impact of daylight savings time.  A few days before the change, begin to adjust your sleep and wake times by 15 minutes each day.  This gradual change allows your body to adjust without the sudden shock of losing or gaining an hour of sleep.


2 .Maintain Healthy Sleep Hygiene

Another way to reduce the negative impact of daylight savings time is to maintain healthy sleep habits.  In the days leading up to the time change, try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule where you prepare for bed around the same time, avoid caffeine and alcohol and avoid bright screens at least 30 minutes before bedtime. 


3. Maximize Daylight Exposure

Daylight is an important factor in maintaining healthy sleep and wake cycles.  Try to spend more time outside during daylight hours, open your curtains to let natural sunlight in and reduce artificial bright lights at night prior to preparing for bedtime.

4. Remain active

Regular exercise can also help mitigate the negative impacts of daylight savings time.  Exercise can help regulate sleep, reduce stress levels, and improve overall mood.  Even just taking a walk outside during the day can help you feel more energized and less affected by the time change.


With a little planning and effort, you can minimize the impact of daylight savings time and protect your mental health and well-being in the process!

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