Professor explains why less daylight can make you ‘SAD’

What effects does daylight savings have on an individual’s sleep schedule?

Aaron Benjamin: It’s certainly true that people’s activity cycles are tied to light-dark cycles. In the absence of other things, telling people to sleep later, shorter periods of daylight can certainly cause people to feel more tired.

How is daylight connected with mental health, if there is any connection, and why?

AB: There is this phenomenon called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

It was found that people who live in places further north, where they have very, very short daylight hours, have been linked to higher instances of depression.

The further north you go, the shorter the days are in the winter. You get this higher instance of seasonal affective disorder.

How does less daylight affect productivity?

AB: Basically, if you’re depressed, you’re going to be less productive. But when it’s cold out, and people are sitting inside all day, you can imagine that might make people a little more productive.

How can students deal with the negative effects (if any) of daylight savings time?

AB: There are people who have talked about this. I think things like exercise, and maybe even at certain times a day, is good for breaking people out of the sort of “blah” that comes from longer dark hours.