The last Saturday of this month will be the time change, when at 3:00 it will be 2:00 in the morning. A change in the time zone that can cause sleep disturbances. Thus, the psychologist Montse Marsà, from Mundopsicologos.com, helps us understand if the effects of the time change are real or if it is just a suggestion, what the main symptoms may be, if there are subjects more predisposed than others to suffer variations in time, and gives us valuable advice to prepare and overcome this time change in the best possible way.
What are the effects of the time change?
“With the time change, a change in our circadian rhythms begins, which can influence our mood. The most frequent side effects are perceiving a subtle decrease in energy levels, changes in mood for no apparent reason and changes in sleep. We can also perceive concentration difficulties, which can lead to a decrease in intellectual performance, and in cases affected by an anxiety or mood disorder, the symptoms may be aggravated for a few days “, says the psychologist Montse Marsà.
This all depends on factors that cannot be escaped. And each of us, depending on the moment and the psychophysical state in which we find ourselves, can react differently. The main factor is darkness, present both in the morning and in the afternoon. The body and mind in the morning must start without light, and this in itself is a great effort. But, in addition, in some cases, depending on the work schedule, you leave the house when it is still dark and when you return it is already night or practically, having completely lost the hours of sunshine.
How do climatic and environmental factors influence the psyche?
«Climate and environmental changes affect the emotional and motivational area of the human being. These changes influence our routines and, consequently, the decisions we make. For example, they can cause us to meet less with friends, to stop doing the sport we used to do (because it is already dark) or to go to sleep earlier because there is no light. This will lead us to that, depending on the type of changes we make as a consequence, we experience one state of mind or another or that even the symptoms we were experiencing are aggravated “, explains the psychologist.
Are there people more sensitive to the change of time and the lack of light?
“Studies indicate that especially infants and the elderly are the most affected by time changes and light changes. Our brains need time to adapt to these changes and, especially in babies and older people, This adaptation can be a bit more complicated. However, and especially people with mood and anxiety disorders, they will also be prone to see their symptoms aggravated in the days after the time change. Also, Marsà continues, we must have take into account that less exposure to sunlight leads to a reduction in vitamin D levels, related to mood disorders and that, therefore, it is very important to take it into account during this time of year. “
Does the time change really affect us, or is it just suggestion?
“It does affect and it is something real that those of us who work in the health field find. Visits to the psychologist increase at this time of year, associated with the return to routine and especially, the change we experience in terms of contact with the sunlight and all that it entails. However, there will be people who will experience greater adaptation difficulties than others and who will need an interdisciplinary approach so that this change does not significantly affect their activities of daily living “, states the psychologist.
Tips to survive the time change without downturns
- Start modifying your bedtime routine 3 days before the time change. This can be useful to alert your body and mind that you are changing something.
- Take advantage of every moment of sun (and vitamin D). As explained, vitamin D is related to mood (among others), so take advantage of the times of the day where there is sun as much as you can to get in touch with sunlight and thus promote its absorption.
- Get regular physical activity and promote the release of endorphins. Try to establish a routine of physical activity to promote the release of endorphins, related to pleasure and well-being. If you were already doing physical activity, keep doing it despite the lack of sunlight.
- Take care of your social life. Do not let the lack of sunlight prevent you from doing those social activities that you previously enjoyed and helped you in your mood: keep meeting friends, or going for a walk, etc.
- Go to a professional. These guidelines can help you to adapt a little easier, but if after a week or two you continue to perceive difficulties derived from the time change, it is important that you go to a psychologist to assess your case and see how to overcome this situation in the best way possible way.