Feeling Groggy from Daylight Saving? 5 Mental Health Strategies for Surviving the Time Change

March 13, 2017
Written by Patrick Glass

Feeling groggy from last weekend’s shift to Daylight Saving Time? You’re not alone. Recent studies indicate that the fall and spring time changes are associated with a profusion of wellness and mental health concerns, including increased rates of traffic accidents, workplace injuries, sleep disruption, stress, and unipolar depression.

Other studies have shown that Daylight Saving correlates with judges imposing harsher sentences, children getting injured more often on trampolines, and with an increased overall accidental mortality rate of 6.5%. The change is even apparent in what and when we Tweet.

Public Health policy experts have gone so far as to characterize Americans’ poor sleep habits as a “crisis,” and recommend eliminating the biannual time change altogether.

If Daylight Savings is so disruptive and downright dangerous, why does our society choose to do it at all? (Hint: it has nothing to do with farmers).

The time shift is often attributed to a number of historical figures including Benjamin Franklin and British entomologist George Hudson – both of whom suggested that moving time forward an hour in the Spring and backward in the Fall would maximize daylight hours.

Yet, the modern history of Daylight Savings in the U.S. encompasses a variety of efficiency concerns, including energy consumption rates and perceptions of economic productivity.

The time change was first instituted during the World Wars of the 20th century as a way to conserve resources and energy for the wartime effort. A permanent national Daylight Saving policy did not come into effect until 1975, as a way to address the looming oil crisis.

To this day, Daylight Savings remains a controversial and much-discussed issue.

Since we at PEERS are interested in supporting your wellbeing and mental health during this transition, here are five tools for surviving the Daylight Savings shift:

  1. Avoid blue light and electronics-usage at night. Light exposure regulates our circadian rhythms. Since the blue light emitted by L.E.D. screens mimics dawn wavelengths, this can delay melatonin production and thus affect our ability to fall asleep.
  2. Seek out natural sunlight in the morning or use a therapy lightbox. Sunlight exposure in the morning helps us wake-up feeling refreshed. By searching out bright light in the morning, you’ll reinforce the body’s natural wake and sleep cycles. Morning sunlight also boosts mood and fights mental health concerns.
  3. Supplement with melatonin before bed. Melatonin is a hormone that is strongly associated with maintaining a healthy, consistent sleep pattern. Melatonin is best used as an aid in shifting sleep patterns and treating jet lag, rather than as a daily supplement. Please consult with your doctor before starting any new medication.
  4. Exercise in the morning rather than evening. Exercise in general has proven benefits for sleep quality and duration. However, morning exercise prevents a delay in melatonin production, leading to earlier and easier sleep.
  5. Relocate to Hawaii or Arizona. Neither of these U.S. states follows Daylight Saving time, so moving there would automatically exempt you from the entire time change hullabaloo.

Sweet dreams!