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Here's how setting your clock back an hour impacts mental health

Don’t forget to adjust your clocks, because the time will change on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2 a.m. local time.
Here's how setting your clock back an hour impacts mental health
Posted at 3:13 PM, Nov 03, 2023

It’s that time of year again. This weekend, daylight saving time ends and most Americans will fall back an hour.

That means the sun will be going down earlier in the day.

Experts say falling back can feed into seasonal affective disorder. 

“So fall back, where we’re losing some of that daylight time, we do see that. We see that there’s a feed into the seasonal affective disorder presentation — so someone who experiences true depressive symptoms as a result of the change in season, so less light, more cold temperatures." said Dr. Mariam Wahby, the manager of behavioral health education at Memorial Hermann in Houston, Texas.

For some, this change can also exacerbate preexisting mental health conditions.

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“If there is a change to your regular routine, there can certainly be disruptions to your sleep. What we know is sleep deprivation is going to feed into effect struggles or trouble with your mood,” she said.

One way to help is by using natural light to your advantage.

“So it’s just going to be a little more effort, especially if you know you're someone who is going to be more sensitive to that. Being proactive and finding the times and ways to really get that in for yourself,” Dr. Wahby said.

Holidays can also add another factor.

“It can be coupled with holiday blues. So it's this time of year where we have this change in time, change in daylight and environment, we also have a big surge of holidays and gatherings,” she said.

To minimize the effects of time change, the CDC recommends adjusting your sleep cycle a few days beforehand, going outside for early morning sunlight on Sunday morning, and sticking to your daily routines as best as possible.

Dr. Wahby said it’s best to be as in tune with yourself as you can.

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