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Wellness

Why Daylight Savings is (Hopefully) Going to Change our Mental Health

I hate winter for so many reasons, but the most important one is that the sun sets before 5:30 p.m. in the winter. In the deep dead of winter, it sets at 4. That is just straight up depressing. Daylight savings is coming up on March 14, which means we will be springing the clocks forward, losing an hour of sleep, and gaining back our mental and physical health as we kiss winter goodbye! Below are just a few of the ways that life is hopefully about to improve in the coming weeks. 

We will all be less sleepy all the time!

Daylight savings forces us to spring forward and lose an hour of sleep, which you would think would make us more sleepy instead of less sleepy. But no! Our brain naturally releases a hormone called melatonin (I’m sure you’ve heard of it), at night because melatonin helps us sleep, and brains know when it is bedtime. But in the winter when we are faced with 14 hours of darkness a day, our brains start making us tired around 7pm, which is more like dinner time than bedtime. When we spring the clocks forward, the sun goes from setting at 5:30 to setting at around 7, and our brain adjusts to release melatonin closer to 10, which is much closer to when I like to go to sleep.

Everyone will be a little bit happier.

Kind of like at night when our brains release melatonin, the day time triggers our brains to release serotonin. Some of you may know this as one of the four big happy hormones, the other three being dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. Each of these hormones has a different specialty in boosting happiness, and serotonin’s claim to fame is being the mood stabilizer hormone. In the winter, people’s serotonin levels tend to dip because of the lack of sun exposure, which causes a drop in mood and energy levels. Some people call this seasonal depression. When we spring the clocks forward, our days get a jumpstart at being longer, which means more sun exposure, more serotonin, and more happiness! 

The physical benefits of Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin).

Along with boosting your mood and regulating sleep, sunshine has even more benefits! Sunshine encourages people to get outside and be active, which promotes a healthier heart, weight loss, and stress reduction. Additionally, vitamin D contributes to bone health, which prevents aches and pains in your legs and hips. 

Daylight savings is a wonderful thing for so many reasons, but I am personally looking forward to being able to grab dinner at 6 p.m. without my brain thinking it’s time to go to bed. That, and I’ll be more inclined to exercise. Maybe. 

I think we’re all ready to say goodbye to the frigid winds of Boston in the winter time. Happy spring, everyone!

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Catherine is from Boston MA. She is a junior in the College of Communications at Boston University. Her hobbies include reading and taking walks, and she is also a member of BU's sailing team. Catherine has been a writer for Her Campus since the fall of 2020, and recently joined the editing team this past fall. She is currently pursuing a major in journalism and a minor in English.
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