Every year in the fall we move our clocks back one hour, bringing an end to the period of day-light saving. For most of us, our bodies take a while to adjust to this time change, creating a lag between society’s clocks and our bodies’ clocks. The circadian rhythm, which is our bodies’ internal clocks, adjusts to changes in patterns of bright light and darkness, and this adjustment occurs over several days. Scientists believe that energy from bright light absorbed by photo-sensors in the eyes retina is transferred along the optic nerve to critical parts of the brain. The brain, in turn, regulates the production of a hormone called melatonin and a neurotransmitter called serotonin. These chemical changes regulate our sleep and how we feel. So it’s not surprising that when we shift our exposure to bright light by one hour, our bodies react with sleep disturbance, depression, or irritability. For most people, the effects are mild and subside within a week. However, for people with insomnia or depression, the effects can be more pronounced and treatment may be needed.
Tips For Adjusting To The Time Change
- Eat breakfast outside or take a morning walk. Getting exposure to bright light in the morning can improve sleep and mood.
- Avoid the temptation to take naps or change your sleep routine. This could confuse your body’s clock further.
- Focus on waking up at the correct time rather than when you fall asleep. Worrying about not getting to sleep makes matters worse.