Why The End Of Daylight Saving Time Makes Us Feel So Awful

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Daylight saving time happened just this past weekend and while there are definitely some people who were absolutely thrilled to get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning, for some daylight saving time simply makes them feel awful.

It turns out there's a scientific reason that you feel awful at the end of daylight saving time, and it's not just that your kids haven't figure out what "sleeping in" means yet. If you're one of the between four and six percent of people who are afflicted with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), or an addition 10 to 20% who have a milder case of the disorder, daylight saving time can just make your symptoms worse.

SAD causes a depression for those who experience the disorder that affects their appetite and energy levels. SAD mostly affects people during the fall and winter months, American Family Physican writes, and may result in weight gain, lack of energy, irritability, having a hard time concentrating, and avoiding social situations.

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The shorter days and longer nights that come when the clock's "fall back" thanks to daylight saving time can only make those experiencing symptoms of SAD feel even worse.

"The lack of light can impact our biological functioning," Louisa Sylvia, Ph.D., director of psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital Bipolar Clinic and Research Program, told CBS News. "We're not making as much melatonin as usual, which helps with our hormone functioning and as a result it can lead to symptoms of depression such as fatigue, loss of interest in things, and lack of motivation, and it can snowball into a full-on depressive episode."

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Credit: iStock / Zinkevych

SAD is almost four times more common in women than in men, and typically affects people older than 20. Which means if you find yourself feeling even more sluggish than usual after daylight saving time you may be experiencing some symptoms of SAD. If you do feel like you have less energy and motivation recently and finding yourself feeling a bit depressed, anxious or irritable, you should probably contact your doctor to get some blood work done.

"Ask for vitamin D, B12 and iron levels, and get your thyroid levels checked," Dr. Vatsal Thakkar, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine, told CBS News. "If these are too low they may be bringing you down." The American Psychological Association also suggests that you try to get out in the daylight as much as possible, and if you can't get outside to enjoy the daylight even sitting beside a window is a better alternative to not being exposed to daylight at all.

Keeping active and maintaining a regular exercise program can also be helpful in minimizing the effects of SAD. If it's too cold to be outside exercising think of possibly joining a gym or participating in a class that will keep you moving. Also try to maintain a healthy diet and keep the junk food to a minimum because all those high carbohydrates and high sugar foods can seriously affect your mood.

Don't hesitate to ask your doctor for help as well if you feel like you just aren't yourself as well because there are numerous ways they can help and treat you to make you feel better.

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