Daylight Saving Time ends in the early morning of Sunday, Nov. 1, which means you'll be gaining 60 minutes of sleep that night. While an extra hour of sleep may be helpful, if you're not regularly well-rested, your health and mood will be negatively impacted, according to sleep experts. “Sleep is a kind of outward symbol of the timing processes of our body,” Chris Winter, MD, a board-certified doctor and author previously told NBC News In The Know. “Our bodies function on an internal schedule, from hormone release to body temperature to cognition – and sleep is linked to them all.” When we are not well-rested, we are also more likely to get into accidents, changes in appetite can occur and we may experience mood shifts.
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Changes in your sleep schedule, combined with the stress of the upcoming election, natural disasters and coronavirus can leave you feeling uneasy. "It is normal to feel anxious, afraid and uncomfortable in the face of uncertainty. We should acknowledge those feelings, but not let them overwhelm us," advised Stefanie Simmons, MD, an emergency medicine physician and vice president of patient and clinician engagement at Envision Physician Services.
What is SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that lasts between four and five months, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Symptoms of SAD include problems with sleep, anxiety, changes in appetite and weight, feelings of sluggishness and issues concentrating. It affects about five percent of the people in the U.S. and another 10 to 15 percent have a mild version of SAD, Norman Rosenthal, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist who led the team that first described Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), previously shared with NBC BETTER.
In conversation with NBC News Shopping, Rosenthal, who is also a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine and author of “Winter Blues,” explained the combination of SAD and daylight savings time can be a “major problem.” “Suddenly the extra hour of darkness in the afternoon can have a very depressing effect, especially if they are sleeping through the extra hour of light in the morning and thus not deriving the benefit from it,” he said. To help prevent this from occurring, he encouraged people with SAD to wake up early during the time change and go for a walk outside or use a bright light. “It can also be very useful to compensate for the lack of light in the late afternoon by using artificial light at that time,” he said.
Best products to help you destress and sleep better
As you begin to mentally prepare for spending more time indoors because of the dreary winter season, there are actionable tips you can take to help lift your mood and sleep better. We consulted medical doctors and therapists for their favorite ways to destress during this transitional time. We compiled their recommendations below alongside a few editor-favorite products to help you destress.
“Light therapy involves acquiring a special light fixture that puts out the right amount of light in a safe way,” said Rosenthal. “It is best to sit one to two feet in front of such a fixture with your face towards it but not stare directly at it. You can do all sorts of things while getting your light therapy, including reading, paperwork or surfing on your computer.” Dyson created the Lightcycle Morph to this end, which tracks the sunlight to adjust the light temperature and brightness, every 60 seconds. If you want to save more than $100 for a similar Dyson product, opt for the desk Lightmorph instead.
Weighted blankets might help you fall asleep quicker by creating the sensation of a warm hug. "Being hugged is a very powerful stimulus," Irina Zhdanova, MD, CEO of ClockCoach, previously told NBC News BETTER. She also noted weighted blankets make it harder for you to move around and disturb yourself while you sleep. "When you're hugged, you feel more secure." Bearaby sells weighted blankets made of sustainable materials like organic knit and they're available in various colors. The Cotton Napper comes in three weights and eight shades, ranging from Cozy Corn to Goodnight Grape.
Rosenthal and the other experts we consulted meditation is helpful in dealing with SAD and stress. “Be careful not to go for bad stress relievers like drugs, alcohol and overeating,” he said. Instead, try Muse 2, a Bluetooth-enabled smart gadget that senses your breathing and heart rates, brain activity and movement to help guide you through meditation routines.
Diana Concannon, a licensed psychologist and dean of the California School of Forensic Studies at Alliant International University recently started shooting darts as a way to destress. “I find that focusing on my target and the repetitive movement of the throw is extremely relaxing and strangely joyful,” she said. Concannon noted she found it particularly effective in “helping to manage stress” while watching the presidential debates. This particular set of steel-tipped darts also includes a scoreboard, chalk and mountain hardware for your dartboard.
Spritz this spray onto your pillow or all over your bedroom and enjoy the light-yet-inviting fragrance of lavender, vetivert and chamomile. It has a 4.4-star average rating and nearly 5,500 reviews on Amazon. This Works also makes a nap spray — a nightly must-have for me — however, this Deep Sleep version Sleep is more potent and can help you feel more relaxed and hopefully fall asleep quicker.
Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, previously called silk a “lightweight, breathable and non-irritating” material in our guide to bedding beneficial for your skin and hair. Slip makes an ultra-popular option that is highly-rated on Amazon and Sephora. “There's no need to invest in a full set of silk sheets,” said Robinson, president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology. “The rest of your body won't benefit the way your hair and face will.”
Shopping previously named the Eight Sleep Pod the best smart mattress for hot sleepers. It boasts four layers of memory foam and sensor trackers to monitor your breathing and heart rates. The Eight Sleep Pod also has cooling and heating capabilities — dipping as cold as 55 degrees Fahrenheit and heating up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Amazon’s no. 1 bestselling eye mask has a 4.7-star average from more than 22,300 reviews. It is ergonomically-designed, light-blocking, available in four colors and made from memory foam for comfort. You can also keep it sanitary by handwashing the mask with cool water in your kitchen or bathroom sink.
With an increased time spent indoors, consider focus on improving your indoor air quality with a Dyson purifier that offers heating and cooling capabilities. It utilizes a HEPA filtration system to remove at least 99.97 percent of particles in the air. Shopping previously reported that true HEPA filters are tested and approved by the nonprofit Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology. This model has a 4.6-star average rating from 360 ratings on Amazon.
For days you run essential errands or just feel compelled to go on a socially-distant walk, you should continue to follow CDC guidelines and sport a face mask. “It is extra-important to wear your mask when you're out and about because when it's dark, you can find yourself up close against people without realizing it in ways that are not safe,” said Rosenthal. “In other words, it's not as easy to avoid people and it is safer if everybody is wearing masks.” If you’re shopping for a new face mask with fast, two-day shipping consider this washable option from Case-Mate, which is currently in stock on Amazon, and other retailers. It boasts a 4.2-star average rating from nearly 18,000 Amazon reviews and is available in multipacks and individually.
How to destress, according to a doctor
Stefanie Simmons, MD, also shared a few actionable steps you can do to help you destress at home when you're feeling overwhelmed.
Practice self-care. Sleep, nutrition and physical health are more important than ever. "Just as we push our bodies and our minds daily — whether we are at a computer for long hours or standing for the entire shift at a grocery store — we must take care of them," said Simmons, who also recommended going for a brief walk and stretching.
Take A Deep Breath. "Sometimes you can be doing everything right: eating well, drinking water and sleeping 7-8 hours, but still feel stressed and overwhelmed," she said. When this happens, Simmons advised taking a quick break and focus on your breathing. "A mental break can give us the perspective and the time we need to get back into our day on the right track."