Southeast Michigan residents who dutifully set their clocks back an hour last Saturday night may have been grateful for the extra hour of shuteye—but if they’ve been reading what shrinks and biologists are telling the Wall Street Journal, they probably spent the extra hour tossing and turning. The Journal’s “Why the Time Change Is Trickier When Working from Home” provided a new reason to append some additional anxiety to the workweek ahead.
It’s long been known that winter’s shortened daylight hours cause a mood shift in some people —with the ‘fall backward’ clock adjustment exacerbating the effect. One Danish study found that depression increased by 8% following the time change (and that was before the pandemic).
For Southeast Michigan homeworkers who’ve spent recent months learning to adjust their lifestyles to an officeless COVID-19 environment, the clock switch could trigger a “more intense” physiological setback than usual. The amount of light people get is only one of several factors affecting mood—but given the already disruptive pandemic atmosphere, the amount of light can become more important: “…kind of dominating the mood input,” according to one doctor at UC San Diego’s psychiatry department.
This year’s clock tinkering might be especially disruptive because of the absence of the stimulation that accompanies colleagues and commuting—”whether stuck in rush-hour jams or not”—that counteracts the decrease in afternoon daylight. (For Southeast Michigan drivers, the news that there is any positive value to morning traffic jams remains a separate matter).
On the bright side, experts offer a solution: maximize exposure to the early morning light. According to one psychiatrist, it’s worth the effort, boosting alertness and helping to “synchronize circadian rhythms”—effects lost for those working from home who fail to get out.
From my vantage point, if the doctors are correct that increased stimulation really does elevate wintertime moods, embarking on a new Southeast Michigan real estate initiative will certainly provide a healthy amount of that! Feel free to call me to discuss your own objectives and how I can help you meet them!