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Daylight Savings Time Ends on 11/1: Are You Ready for Shorter Days?

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Every year, beginning on the second Sunday in March, most Americans set their clocks ahead one hour–  a welcome ritual that brings with it an extra hour of daylight we enjoy throughout the summer and early fall…until the first Sunday in November. This is when we “fall back” again by one hour, bringing back Standard time and its short days and longer nights once again. (This happens officially this year at 2:00 A.M. on November 1, 2020.)

Most people dread the return of Standard Time for many reasons. For some, it triggers a mood disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder. What’s the connection? Scientists think it has something to do with our body’s internal clock, the mechanism inside each of us that cycles us through daily periods of sleep and wakefulness that is calibrated based on our exposure to sunlight. 

For example, when light enters our eyes, it sends the message to our brain that it’s time to wake up. When it’s dark outside, a hormonal signal is sent to our brain that it’s time to sleep. During the fall and winter, when the days are shorter, our body clock may become disrupted due to a lack of exposure to sunlight, creating feelings of sluggishness, apathy, and sadness. Left unchecked, this can lead to the symptoms we know as seasonal depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

People who experience seasonal depression are already prone to disturbances in their body clock. Research suggests that time changes could make depression worse by disrupting the body clock even further. A study published in 2017 identified an 11 percent increase in depressive episodes during the switch from daylight saving to standard time.

If this sounds like you, experts suggest light therapy– and the earlier you start, the better. Using a high-quality light box, like the ones produced by the SunBox Company, before symptoms even appear can both treat and prevent seasonal depression.  

About Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year exhibit depressive symptoms at the same time each year, most commonly in the fall and winter. Symptoms of SAD often include oversleeping or difficulty waking up in the morning, nausea, and a tendency to overeat, often with a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain. In severe cases, individuals may experience feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, thoughts of suicide, loss of interest in activities, withdrawal from social interaction, difficulty with concentrating and making decisions, and decreased libido. Experts suggest that sitting in front of a light box like those made by SunBox may reset the body’s internal clock, correcting symptoms and restoring mood.

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