This Sunday the Government will do its best to make its population more depressed. It isn’t a conspiracy, but I encourage you not to let them get away with it!
Hundreds of articles have consistently shown that the best way to make someone quickly more depressed is to shift their sleep time so that they are waking up later in the day (so-called phase delaying the sleep wake cycle, because the transition occurs later). This is exactly what the government has planned for you Sunday morning.
Think about it, when we change back to standard time from daylight savings time what we are doing is phase delaying our sleep cycles. Our bodies and brains don’t care that we change the clock, they respond to solar time not clock time. Sunday morning, most people will “take advantage” of the “extra hour of sleep” to sleep later.
And since this shift happens at a time when people are already vulnerable to depression because of the shorter days reduced intensity of light and the increased number of rainstorms due to the changing season, the result will be that next week, in my office, I will see more depressed patients than at any other time of the year.
So, here is my strong recommendation, “take advantage” of the “extra time” that you get by doing something healthy. Rather than getting up later, get up at the same time and do something that will improve your mood. Here’s a potential list:
1. Go outdoors and get some sun in the early morning. If it isn’t raining, this is a perfect opportunity to be out earlier. If you combine going out early with some physical activity (taking a walk) you’ll be getting two of the most powerful anti-depressant interventions that we know of.
2. Take up the practice of mindfulness or yoga. If you download one of the many excellent apps for mindfulness (Calm.com, for example) and spend the extra time that you have practicing mindfulness, your mood will improve with very little effort.
3. Take the time to consider how your life reflects your values. How do you embody these values in your decisions and actions throughout the day. Aligning your actions with your values can have a profound effect on your mood, and your life.
Whatever you do, I encourage you not to sleep in.
You will be among a relatively small group of people not at risk of increased depression next week.