People tend to feel gloomier when the nights draw in and cold weather descends. But altering our working hours to fit the seasons could help lift our mood.
For many of us, winter, with its chillier days and lingering nights, ushers in with it a general sense of malaise. It’s increasingly difficult to peel ourselves out of bed in the half-light of morning, and, hunched over our desks at work, we can feel our productivity draining away with the remnants of the afternoon sun.
For the small subsection of the population who experience full-blown seasonal affective disorder (SAD), it’s even worse – winter blues mutate into something far more debilitating. Sufferers experience hypersomnia, low mood and a pervasive sense of futility during the bleaker months. SAD notwithstanding, depression is more widely reported during winter, suicide rates increase, and productivity in the workplace drops during January and February.
While it’s easy to put all of this down to some nebulous idea of winter gloominess, there might be a scientific reason for all of this despondency. If our body clocks are out of sync with our waking – and working – hours, shouldn’t we be tweaking our office hours to help improve our mood?