Get ready to turn back your clocks — daylight saving time is ending this Sunday, Nov. 5. While we get an hour extra of sleep, the shorter days and early sunsets can leave people feeling out of whack. The end of daylight saving time can also trigger negative health impacts, including seasonal affective disorder as a result of the decrease in daylight. Just turning the clocks back one hour can mess with your productivity and energy levels, and cause sleep deprivation.
Light and darkness play a huge role in dictating our circadian rhythm, the internal bodily process that signals when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to hit the hay.
According to experts, it can take your body up to seven days to properly adjust to the time change associated with the start and end of daylight saving time. You may feel yourself getting hungry earlier than you typically do — or drowsier earlier in the evening.
Here are some ways you can adjust to the time change.
For more on daylight saving time, learn about efforts to make it year-round and how to treat seasonal depression with light therapy.
4 simple ways to adjust to the time change
Go outside and get some sun
The end of daylight saving time marks the start of shorter days and earlier sunsets, when your after-work supermarket trip is lit by the glow of the moon rather than the sun’s rays.
Help keep your internal clock consistent by going outside the first morning to soak up some daylight right away.
Fewer daylight hours can also have a negative impact on our mood and energy levels. A stroll outside can boost serotonin and help prevent that drop.
Keep a regular sleep schedule
Don’t use an extra hour of sleep as an excuse to stay up later that Saturday. Go to sleep around your usual time to maintain your regular sleep-wake cycle.
After the time change, continue to maintain the same bedtime each day to help reset your body’s circadian rhythm. Once you get into a consistent pattern, your body will align with your schedule and naturally recognize when it’s time to wake up or go to sleep.
Try a sleep mask
If you like to wake up in the morning on your own time and not the sun’s time, for instance 6:30 a.m., try using a sleep mask. There are options that fit comfortably around your face, preventing light from seeping in and waking you up.
Set your clock the night before
When time “falls back” an hour, setting your clock the night before allows you to wake up with the adjusted time, which prevents any lateness and potential confusion. This can also help your body’s internal clock adapt to the time change with less disruption to your daily routine.
Read more: Driving at Night: 9 Tips as Daylight Saving Time Ends
What is seasonal affective disorder?
Also known as seasonal depression, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a collection of symptoms that emerge in the darker months and can include fatigue, depression, oversleeping, weight gain and social withdrawal. If you have a family history of depression or bipolar disorder, your risk of developing SAD is higher, according to the Mayo Clinic.
SAD tends to affect people between November and April and is most common among people in the Pacific Northwest, the Northeast and other regions that experience shorter, darker days and colder winters.
Recommended treatments for SAD include exercise, healthy eating, a consistent sleep schedule and regular exposure to sunlight. Other options include meditating, decreasing screen time and light therapy.
How daylight saving time got started in the first place
The idea of daylight saving was first proposed in 1895 in New Zealand, but it wasn’t put into practice until World War I, when Germany used it as a way to save electricity on lighting. The US followed suit, signing DST into law in 1918 to save energy during the war.
But it was quickly repealed in 1919 after the end of the war due to its unpopularity among citizens.
Since then, the US has had a confusing, back-and-forth relationship with DST. For the most part, states and cities have been left to decide for themselves whether they want to observe the time change. This made it difficult for public transportation services and broadcast networks to properly coordinate times.
In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Uniform Time Act, which created set dates when the nation would collectively start and end DST. Starting in 2007, most of the US has observed daylight saving time from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. Any state that doesn’t want to participate, however, is allowed to pass a law through its legislature.
Not all states observe daylight saving time
Neither Hawaii nor Arizona observes daylight saving time. In addition, 47 other states have introduced bills to abolish changing the clocks. The measures that were signed into law are either waiting for Congress and the US Department of Transportation to abolish DST nationwide or for neighboring states to join the cause so they don’t disrupt regional time zones.
Some argue for permanent daylight saving time, while others, like the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, say we should adopt standard time year-round. In 2022, the Senate unanimously passed the Sunshine Protection Act, which would make daylight saving time permanent year-round, but it has not been approved by the House.