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Harness the power of biorhythms. Natural Mental Health

Prepare for the end of DST: Harness the Power of Biorhythms

depression sleep Oct 28, 2021


Align Yourself with Nature's Rhythms

To a remarkable degree, our sense of well-being, our energy levels, even the timing of the release of hormones in our bodies are all tied to one of nature’s most important cycles--our daily biorhythm. For many of us living far north of the equator, the dwindling daylight hours of autumn and winter can give us a slight sense of dread as we anticipate a drop in mood and energy levels commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. [Learn more about SAD over at our article, A Light on SAD: Definition, Treatment, & Prevention.]

One of the key contributors to Seasonal Affective Disorder is the shift that occurs in our circadian rhythm as a response to the decreased exposure to sunlight. People tend to feel tired and sad in the winter months as their sleep schedule is thrown off kilter. Regulating your sleep schedule is a crucial component of SAD prevention and treatment. However, this may get tricky in late fall when DST ends.

Tools such as exercising in the morning, wise supplementation and light therapy, can help regulate your circadian rhythm and, therefore, your sleep schedule. Utilize light therapy (i.e. expose yourself to very bright light) early in the morning and again in the early evening around 5:00pm or 6:00pm. [Learn more about light therapy techniques at our article, SAD Light Therapy.]

Prepare for the end of Daylight Saving Time by adjusting your sleep window by 15 minutes later each day. 

The end of Daylight Saving Time is just around the corner, and readjusting your sleep window by an entire hour can add yet another setback if you're working to regulate your sleep schedule. This can be buffered by shifting your sleep window 15 minutes later each day leading up to the end of DST.

Go to bed 10-15 minutes later than you usually do on the Thursday night before the end of DST. Then, get up 15 minutes later than you usually do the next morning (Friday). Follow that with a Friday night bedtime 10-15 minutes later than Thursday and a Saturday morning rise 15 minutes later than Friday morning.

These shifts should then lead you to a Saturday night bedtime about 45 minutes later than your usual time and a rise Sunday morning at your USUAL time (DST has ended!). Sunday night you can then go to bed at your USUAL time.

Here's an example for a usual bedtime at 10 pm and wake up at 6 am:

  •  Thursday bedtime at 10:15 pm
  •  Friday wake up at 6:15 am
  •  Friday bedtime at 10:30 pm
  •  Saturday wake up at 6:30 am
  •  Saturday bedtime at 10:45 pm
  •  Sunday wake up at 6:00 am
  •  Sunday bedtime at 10:00 pm

Remember, when it comes to preventing SAD, it’s not just the amount of sleep that matters--it’s the timing of sleep. The key is to get up at about the same time every day, and if you have any trouble falling asleep at your usual bedtime, use bright light first thing in the morning and perhaps again in the late afternoon. Keep the lights very dim in the late evening. Give your body a chance to fall into a good, consistent rhythm, and shed that feeling of dread about the coming winter.

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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice and is not a replacement for advice and treatment from a medical professional. Consult your doctor or other qualified health professional before beginning any diet change, supplement, or lifestyle program. See our terms for more information.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call the NAMI HelpLine: 1-800-950-6264 available Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., ET. OR text "HelpLine" to 62640 or email NAMI at [email protected]. Visit NAMI for more. You can also call or text SAMHSA at 988 or chat 988lifeline.org.