Monday, November 7, 2011

Daylight Saving Time Change = Mood Change?

I’ve updated my Are You Sensitive page to include two additional tests of possible sensitivity to the Earth’s magnetic field. One is any mood change from the daylight saving time change. In the U.S., we set our clocks back an hour yesterday (Sunday, November 6). I noticed a mood change this morning. I also have a mood change when the spring ahead time change happens in March. Why does the daylight saving time change cause a mood change in magnetoreceptive people? It has to do with circadian rhythms, internal rhythms that are approximately one day in length. I’ve found that circadian rhythm affects both my mood and my ability to locate my magnetic home. When we shift our clocks forward or backward, one of my circadian rhythms changes, and this change causes symptoms. I’ve found ways to compensate, including going to bed earlier in the fall, and later in the spring.

The second additional test is the presence of seasonal changes in symptoms. Although the daylight saving time change is associated with seasonal changes, I have something different in mind here. Winter depression is an example of a seasonal change in symptoms. Unlike the daylight saving time change, which happens once in the fall and once in the late winter, seasonal depression and other seasonal symptoms are more gradual. They get progressively worse before the solstice and better after the solstice. Magnetoreceptive people can have seasonal symptoms when the location they’re living in is far enough north or south of where they grew up. During childhood, seasonal changes in day length are “programmed in”, and your body expects similar seasonal changes throughout your life. If you live far enough north or south of where you grew up, day length around the solstices can be different enough for your body to notice it. For example, if you live in New York and grew up in Florida, in New York you’ll have fewer hours of daylight in December than you did when living in Florida. Your body reacts to this difference, causing symptoms. I don’t think that the symptoms are caused, as commonly believed, to it being too dark in the winter. I had winter and summer seasonal symptoms when I lived in North Carolina, which was about 600 km (370 miles) south of where I grew up (New Jersey). These symptoms consisted of sleep problems, anxiety, tics, and agitation. I didn’t have seasonal symptoms when I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, which, while being far west of New Jersey, is close in north-south distance to it. The best way to compensate for seasonal symptoms is to move away from the place that is causing symptoms. If that’s not possible, then temporarily increasing dosage of medication to get through the tough times, or using a bright light box can be helpful for some people.