As daylight saving time approaches, the reduction in sunlight hours can bring added health risks to older adults. Here are some suggestions that can help make the adjustment less disruptive.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) SAD is a type of depression brought on by seasonal changes and lack of daylight. Older adults are at higher risk of developing SAD when it gets darker earlier. Good nutrition, exercise, and limiting alcohol can all help relieve SAD symptoms. If necessary, it can be treated with medication, so make an appointment with a healthcare provider if it persists for a long period of time.
- Vitamin D in sunlight benefits older adults with stronger bones, improved mood, improved sleep quality, and cardiovascular health. During shorter days, try to get some exposure to daytime light to help the adjustment when the sun starts going down earlier. There are also foods and supplements that can help provide the vitamin D benefits of sunlight.
- Encourage light exercise throughout the day – preferably outside, when possible, for sunlight and vitamin D exposure – to elevate their mood. Avoid exercise too close to bedtime, as that can affect the ability to get to sleep. (Always consult a doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.)
- Sleep Patterns. One common side effect of daylight saving is disrupted sleep patterns. Going to bed at the same time every night and turning off tablets and smartphones at least an hour before bedtime can help. Experts suggest a cool room can help aid in sleep.
Your healthcare provider is the best resource for addressing any physical or behavioral issues that come about with daylight saving time.
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