As the weather gets cooler, the clocks give us an extra hour of sleep with daylight savings time. We may not have complaints about extra sleep, but some of us still struggle with adjustments caused by shorter days and longer nights.
If you live with depression or bipolar disorder, you likely have a more sensitive body clock, or circadian rhythm, meaning adjustments to time of day and differences in light can have a great impact on your mood. For example, we see this phenomenon with Seasonal Affective Disorder. As the days shorten in the winter, we know some people tend to experience heightened symptoms of depression because of the shorter amount of light exposure in a given day.
The good news is we can take steps to help regulate our body clocks. At DBSA’s Leadership Summit, Dr. Holly Swartz gave a talk about the importance of regulating our body clocks.
Dr. Swartz provided us with some important takeaways and tips:
- Go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. While you don’t have to wake up earlier, setting a consistent time can help keep our body clocks regulated.
- Limit exposure to light, especially light from the screen two hours before bed. Lights from a computer or phone can impact our ability to fall asleep. Limiting our light exposure can be helpful to signal to our body it is time to go to sleep.
- Don’t spend excessive time in bed. We want our body to associate our bed as a place for sleep only. While we may like to read or watch television in bed, it can be helpful to limit our bedtime only for sleep and sexual activity, so that our bodies get the right cues to signal our sleep.
Related resources and references:
How Addressing Physical Health Can Be Good For Mental Health
DBSA Wellness Wheel: Physical Wellness Worksheets
DBSA Wellness Wheel Podcast: Physical Wellness with Dr. Holly Swartz
Everything to Know About Your Circadian Rhythm