Therapist Blog

How Autumn Affects Your Mood

People come to my office stating the fall is the most challenging for them emotionally. At first glance it may be due to the upcoming holidays, and potential stress and expectations that come with that. Which is definitely a factor, however a larger factor that we have little to no control over happening is that we simply experience less daylight in the fall. Daylight helps release serotonin in our brain, and with more people going to work in the dark, and coming home in the dark we are simply missing out. Also the lack of Vitamin D also plays apart, Vitamin D is often sourced for most people by the sunlight, and when Vitamin D is lacking we often feel lethargic and potentially less motivated.

Finnish researchers have found that the transition to daylight savings time reduces both our sleep duration and efficiency. Having our circadian rhythm thrown off having us potentially sleep longer than normal, having us disoriented about what time of day it is, which may led to missed appointments and further stress. Research has show that following the Autumn daylight time change an 11% increase in hospitalizations for depression in the weeks after the daylight savings transition to standard time.

If you already have sleep issues, know that a time change in either direction can aggravate your sleep disorder. Stick to a strict routine of going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. The night before the time change, try to go to bed an hour early if you can.

Here are some tips to follow for the Autumn time change.

  • Resist the urge to change the times in which you wake and go to sleep. Consistency is key, especially this time of year.

  • Avoid alcohol and excessive caffeine the day before the time changes. Both can mess with your natural sleep patterns, and you don’t want to add more confusion to the mix.

  • Try to take a walk mid-day even if only for 10-15 minutes to get a daily dose of Vitamin D, and experience the daylight you do have.

  • Increase use of coping skills since there is less daylight to do activities that you were used to do during the spring and summer months.