We fell back for Daylight Saving Time (DST) on November 7 and with that, went my motivation. The combination of cold weather and the sunset at 5 p.m. leaves me in a state of constant tiredness that I can’t seem to escape.
DST was enacted in the U.S. in 1918 to save energy. The goal was to allow more time in the evening hours, and in turn, decrease the demand for fuel for light and electricity usage. The fuel saved could then be used for the war effort instead.
In this context, it makes sense; however, we’re not fighting a world war currently, negating the necessity of DST.
Besides, if we’re trying to save evening hours, it doesn’t make sense that falling back causes sunset to be at 4:30 p.m. Sure, there’s bright light greeting me with my 8 a.m. alarm, but I would rather that sunlight be accompanying me on my way home at 5 p.m.
In the winter, the days are naturally shorter as the way we face the sun only provides us with a little over nine hours of daylight, compared to 15 during the longest days of summer. This, coupled with daylight saving time, leaves little time to go on a walk, ride a bike or do anything else in the dark (unless you’re comfortable being out in the dark). By the time I get home from school and work, it feels like 10 p.m.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the reduced level of sunlight can disrupt your body’s internal clock and drop your serotonin levels, leading to things like seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This drop in serotonin can lead to depression, leading to less energy, trouble sleeping, feeling sluggish, feelings of hopelessness and more. This disorder tends to hit in fall and winter.
This disorder is not to be taken lightly. An estimated 10 million Americans have SAD, with another 10 to 20% expected to have mild SAD. The disorder is four times more common in women than men.
With a disorder such as SAD being so prevalent, even science is saying we shouldn’t be getting less daylight during the cold months, so why are we? It’s time for Illinois to join the two states — Arizona and Hawaii — that do not have DST.
Even if you don’t have DST, it is normal and okay if you’re feeling less motivated and more tired lately. The cold months have that effect on people. If you can, take a break, go out in nature and set small and achievable goals to try and increase your motivation. If you are starting to have feelings of depression, ask for help. The Office of Health and Counseling Services is always available.
Photo Credit: Juan Moyano/Dreamstime/TNS