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As a big fan of vitamin D and ardent supporter of my own mental health, I start dreading the end of daylight saving time sometime around July. In my mind, driving home from work at literal dusk is a travesty. Walking my dog in what feels like the middle of the night at 7 PM chips away at my sunny disposition. The fact that we’re beholden to a light schedule best-suited an agrarian society in today’s digital age is both hurtful and personally offensive.
Unfortunately, no one has answered my strongly worded emails on the matter.
Alas, the darkness approaches. In just over two weeks, we’re stuck with an hour less daylight for the next six months. So, grab your light therapy lamps, order some vitamin D supplements, and check out my top home hacks for soaking in more sun after daylight saving time ends.
Hack #1: Get a Light Therapy Lamp
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that typically occurs each year during fall and winter. Losing an extra hour of sunlight after daylight saving time ends can exacerbate the symptoms of lethargy and depression associated with SAD. Light therapy boxes and lamps mimic natural sunlight. Exposure to this light can positively affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Light therapy probably won't cure seasonal affective disorder, non-seasonal depression, or other conditions. But it may ease symptoms, increase your energy levels, and help you feel better about yourself and life. Light therapy can start to improve symptoms within just a few days. In some cases, though, it can take two or more weeks.”
If you didn’t have a light therapy lamp to grab earlier, it’s time to get one!
Hack #2: Position Your Desk or Workspace Near a Window
According to a study from Cornell University, “Workers in office environments with optimized natural light reported an 84% drop in symptoms of eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision symptoms. Furthermore, workers sitting close to a window that optimized daylight exposure reported a 2% increase in productivity.”
With many of us still working remotely, we have the opportunity to exert more control over the amount of natural light we have in our workspace. Positioning the desk in your home office near an unobstructed window will help you soak up the benefits of natural light.
Hack #3: Keep the Curtains Open
You can position yourself next to windows all you want, but it won’t do any good if you’re hiding in a cave of blackout curtains. In fact, sleeping in a completely dark room can interrupt your natural sleep cycles.
According to research reported in Medium, our internal clocks are activated when light coming in through the eye stimulates a part of the brain, which, in turn, sends signals to other parts of the brain that start waking the body. Without bright morning sunlight to reset it every day, your internal clock will increasingly run out of phase. In other words, not being exposed to the morning’s natural light cycle can throw your whole day off.
Open up your curtains to let in natural light, or consider installing sheers instead of heavy material for the curtains in your bedroom and living room.
Hack #4: Capture More Sunlight and Reduce Energy Expenses with a Skylight
Did you know that 40% of your home’s energy usage comes directly from artificial lighting? If you have a bathroom, utility room, or even hallway that isn’t exposed to natural light through a window, consider installing a skylight. This light-filled pane will provide natural illumination, which means you’ll capture more sunlight during the day and use less energy fueling artificial light.
Hack #5: Use Mirrors to Amplify Light Throughout Your Home
Adding mirrors is a great way to lighten up small or dark spaces in your home. Since they reflect light, positioning mirrors in key areas will make the room look bigger, airier, and will amplify both natural and artificial light.
According to design experts at Bustle, “When it comes to bouncing sunlight in particular, this strategy is particularly effective if you place mirrors directly opposite windows, when possible. You can also place mirrors such that they’ll reflect the light at an angle, thereby spreading the light to darker corners or areas that might not otherwise see a whole lot of brightness.”
Though I will begrudge the loss of daylight for the entire six months to come, adjusting to the actual week daylight saving time ends is the worst. Sleep health specialists at the Cleveland Clinic offer the following advice to help ease the transition on November 7:
- Start going to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier than your usual bedtime a few days before the time changes.
- Be consistent with eating, social, bed, and exercise times during the transition. Exposing yourself to the bright light in the morning will also help you adjust.
- Avoiding naps is key for adjusting to the time change, as long daytime naps could make it harder for you to get a full night’s sleep.
I hope you enjoy these tips for letting more sunlight into your home. For those of you who are also dreading the end of daylight saving time next week—don’t worry, we’ve got this.
This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. For further information, please consult a medical professional.
A graduate of the Plan II Honors program at UT Austin, Amanda Harr is the Content Manager for SWBC. A clever wordsmith who appreciates artful persuasion and authenticity in writing, Amanda uses a structured creative process to craft marketing strategies, develop communications solutions, and deliver top-notch content.