Street in the dark before sunrise in winter

How did you fare with the recent “spring forward” in time? I find the brighter evenings make the sting of losing an hour much easier to bear.

I have a bit of a challenge, though, with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which advanced the start of daylight savings time in the spring of 2007 from April to mid-March, and delayed the reversal in the fall from October to November.  Apparently Congress retained the right to revert to earlier laws should it prove unpopular…and they would have my vote to do so.

I get up around 7am every day. With the change I felt plunged back into darkness and less energized to get up. There is something natural about rising with the sun. I’m curious – did anyone else feel like their natural enthusiasm for spring was zapped, and not just because of the cooler weather?  I’d love to hear how it affected you.

Now the impact of this change in timing will vary depending upon where you live in the time zone. Check out to figure out the exact time the sun rises and sets in your town. If we look at March 25, 2013, for example, the sun rose at 6:47 am in Montreal, but not until 7:11 am in Toronto. I’ll bet the folks on the eastern side of each time zone are adjusting better than those on the west.  I suggest office hours be half an hour later in Toronto!

A little back story about why I’m so sensitive to something many might think insignificant.

I’m pretty sure that in the mid-90’s I suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder. I used to take the subway to work in Toronto – about a 40 minute journey, then walk through a tunnel, to enter a building for the rest of the day. Working downtown I tried to seek out sunny lunch spots but it was a bit of a challenge and often my colleagues and I often resorted to a basement food court. I chose socializing over sunlight.

By November each year, I found everything gray – the sky, the buildings, the slush, the dark skeletons of trees.  I felt anxious about the impending winter a little bit earlier in the year until I distinctly landed on July 31st as a day of mourning,. If summer was half over it could only mean winter was coming.

Little was publicized about the importance of Vitamin D at that time.  I looked into early light therapy, relaxation, anything I could do to dig out from the depression, until I resolved to leave Toronto.  It made a difference. I lived in Tokyo for three years and had a completely different lifestyle. Then I moved to Montreal and found that working from home in a sunny office, running around after two small children, and living in a brighter winter climate (lots more snow on the ground reflecting light) meant that I wasn’t a winter hater at all. I learned that I can live happily through winter as long as I get enough light.

Have you thought about your ideal conditions to boost your natural energy?   I’d love to hear how sunlight affects you and your productivity. And, if there is interest, I’ll gladly gather some research on the topic for a future post. Please let me know in the comments below. 

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