While it was nice to get that cherished extra hour of sleep–especially in a college student’s sleep schedule–Daylight Savings really snuck up on me this fall. I never took much notice to the hour shift before this year when it really seemed to disorient my schedule in unexpected ways.
The sunset in Lewisburg this week was around 4:40 p.m., and when it starts to become pitch black outside before 5 p.m., I find it extremely difficult to maintain a normal evening routine. My body responds to the darkness, and the drowsiness sets in before I’ve even eaten dinner! How am I supposed to be able to accomplish the studying that needs to get done in the evening when I feel like I should be slipping under the covers at 5 p.m. because it’s so dark out?
The early sunset also sucks away any motivation I have to do anything active (this may even include walking all the way to the library). When it is dark and really chilly outside, the only thing I feel like doing is hibernating in my room. I also hope I am not the only person who noticed an increased desire to snack, especially on junk food and sweets. I am convinced this has to do with the new shift to such an early darkness. We are all much more active and less self-pitying when it is light and warm outside, like during the summer.
Even as someone who dreads waking up in the morning no matter how late it is, I have to admit that Daylight Savings makes the mornings much more bearable. It’s hard not to wake up and smile when it is a beautiful, bright fall day and the sun is shining so early. I’m sure it makes all the unlucky students with 8 a.m. classes a lot less miserable.
Because of the changes I’ve observed due to this unfortunate time shift, I’ve adjusted my schedule to compensate for the hasty loss of light. I try my best to get as much work done as possible early or between classes, the time of day when I have the most energy and motivation. I also make sure I don’t keep too many tempting treats next to my bed, no matter how intense those cravings are. If you are anything like me and feel like your circadian rhythms are just totally off, recognizing this about yourself is the first step towards recovery.
I can’t help the discouraging feeling that next semester will be challenging during the dead of winter. Simply enough, most people do not flourish in cold, dark weather (hence the reason half a million Americans are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder every year). Based on my small successes in changing my routine, I know that a few adaptations can easily be made to cope with the seasonal and time changes that winter brings.