Daylight saving change can impact mental health

Nov 1, 2023, 3:30 PM

Image of a man struggling to sleep in bed, something that will probably happen, and can happen more...

Switching from daylight saving to standard time can more greatly impact people who struggle with mental health issues. (Adobe Stock)

(Adobe Stock)

SALT LAKE CITY — The upcoming time change (when daylight saving time ends) affects everyone, but it can be extra tough for those with mental health challenges.

Dr. Tom Golightly with Counseling and Psychological Services at Brigham Young University said our mood and anxiety are closely tied to getting enough sleep. So when we disrupt that, it can have a dramatic effect.

“When we’re just magically switching the clock, it really is a disruption to what is our normal circadian rhythm and just how we want to flow with our day,” he told KSL NewsRadio.

And catching up takes time, though Golightly said most of us should be able to readjust in about a week or two.

These mental health impacts are associated with daylight saving time change

For people with mental illness, it might take longer to recover. Golightly said anyone struggling to bounce back shouldn’t be too hard on themselves though.

The time change isn’t just a sleep issue. It disrupts our internal clock.

“That’s going to really disrupt when we feel tired, when we feel like we need to work out, when we feel like we need to eat.”

Golightly said that full-scale disruption makes it harder to cope with mood changes and anxiety.

Strategies for coping with a time change

He recommended planning ahead and being intentional about your recovery.

Look at the things you want to do and try to engage in them even though you know you’re struggling.

“Maybe it doesn’t go the exact way you want it to go, but you showed up and you did it … Give yourself a little compassion as you do that.”

Golightly also recommended framing the situation as a transition period. While you get back on your feet, plan around the stressors that you know will be especially hard during your transition period. Make small adjustments like staying awake a little longer to help yourself adjust more quickly.

“Just be deliberate. It’s okay that it takes some planning and some structure and being able to adjust your day. It’s okay that it’s not easy for you.”


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Daylight saving change can impact mental health