9 Ways to Overcome Setting The Clock Back and Seasonal Affective Disorder

9 Ways to Overcome Setting The Clock Back and Seasonal Affective Disorder

In 2019, many states voted for permanent daylight savings time (DST), meaning no more changing our clocks twice a year, no more dreading an hour of less sleep in March, and no more sitting in total darkness at 5pm in early December. 

Despite this vote, the bill has yet to pass through the senate and congress. So while we wait for our country’s legislative process to run its course, we’re still watching the sun set hours before dinnertime in the winter and adjusting to less sleep in the spring. While these schedule changes may seem like nothing more than minor inconveniences, they can actually take a toll on our health.

The Case Against the Time Change

DST was originally proposed as a way to conserve coal during WWI, which quickly turned into the rationale that more hours of daylight in the summer would cut down the use of electrical lighting and conserve energy. This theory has since been debunked, as the added expense of heating and cooling negates the small amount of energy saved by an hour of extra daylight. 

So why keep DST?

Because of all the other benefits associated with extra sunlight: Improved mood, strengthened immunity, reduced stress, better sleep, stronger bones, healthier skin, and more. 

Fortunately, we still get to enjoy these benefits in the warmer months of the year, but our current system of switching between daylight savings time and standard time deprives us of sunlight when we need it the most… in the winter.

Overcoming the Winter Blues

Humans are incredibly intuitive, so it should come as no surprise that changes in our environments affect us internally. When the season shifts from fall to winter, many people start feeling the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as SAD. This common depression is a direct result of fewer hours of sunlight. 

Earlier sunsets and later sunrises can throw off the body’s natural circadian rhythm, stimulate melatonin production, and decrease serotonin production. These physiological changes leave us feeling more tired, disorientated, and depressed.

While a permanent switch to DST will preserve an hour of light in the evening, it won’t be a miracle cure for those of us who struggle with mood and energy shifts time of year. This is why it’s essential that we infuse our regimens with practices to care for our mental and physical health.

5 Ways to Combat SAD

1. Maximize sunlight exposure.

Make it a priority to soak in some sun. Even though it may be too cold to bask on a beach, your body still benefits from a daily dose of sunlight. Go on a walk, sit by a bright window, or introduce light therapy into your daily routine. Wake up earlier, when the sun rises and go to sleep earlier, after the sun sets. 

2. Exercise.

Physical activity boosts serotonin, which is often depleted this time of year. By moving your body every day, you’ll improve your sleep and energy levels, boosting your overall mood.

3. Eat healthy.

It’s no secret that the way we eat directly impacts our mental health. It’s essential to eat an organic, nutrient-rich diet and take daily supplements. (We recommend vitamin D3 and magnesium, at the very least.)

4. Socialize.

COVID restrictions have essentially eradicated our social lives, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of loving interactions. Be diligent about connecting with friends and family whether it’s in person or over Zoom.

5. Manage stress.

To say 2020 has been a stressful year is an understatement. Protect your energy and foster peace with rituals like yoga, self-care, and time in nature. (Find more tips and stress-relieving products from Jena here.)

6. Transitioning into Spring

Introducing the above practices into your routine will support your mood this winter and help the transition into DST when we lose an hour of sleep in March.

While sleeping a little less may not seem that detrimental, the risks associated with the spring time change are well documented. Research shows that the week after transitioning to DST there are many negative repercussions including more heart attacks and fatal car crashes, lower standardized test scores, and significant losses in the stock market.

Once permanent daylight savings is adopted, we won’t have to go through the sleep deprivation that comes with the time change. But until then, there are some key things you can do to make the transition easier on your body.

4 Ways to Ease Into DS

1. Set your clock forward sooner.

If possible, start incrementally adjusting your clocks in the week leading up to DST. Start by going to bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier, then work your way up to the full hour time change. 

2. Be mindful with your devices.

Exposure to screens just before bed is known to negatively impact sleep. Consider setting new boundaries with your technology leading up to DST. This will ensure you have more restful sleep and smooth the transition.

3. Protect your sleep environment.

In addition to sleeping in a dark, quiet room, it’s also important to protect the energy where you sleep. Introduce products for EMF protection and turn off technology before going to sleep. Look into take a magnesium supplement which will help relax you and improve sleeping.

4. Take melatonin.

If you’re having trouble falling asleep, take a melatonin. This natural hormone regulates sleep and also has some little known anti-cancer benefits. (More on that here.)

Introduce these practices into your routine to reduce the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder and ease the transition back into daylight savings time. Like you, we look forward to longer days and a year when we won’t have to fall back or spring forward... Here’s to hoping that year is 2021.