The Effects of the Time Change during Lockdown

The time change in the context of a lockdown can have a big effect on those who have to go to work, such as health workers or supermarket staff. Those who are confined to their homes may also suffer stress during the longer afternoon hours.
The Effects of the Time Change during Lockdown
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Many people have been talking about the time change during lockdown and its potential effects. However, more than the time change, the enforced confinement itself is what’s affecting us. However, we can’t deny that having to adjust to the time change may be an additional stress factor to add to the many we’re experiencing at the moment.

There isn’t any research to tell us what we will, or should, experience, or what other people experienced in a similar situation. However, experts tell us that we shouldn’t really experience an excessively negative or problematic impact. In fact, most of us will only notice the difference of an hour’s less sleep.

Be that as it may, there’s one obvious fact. Every year, experts and non-experts alike analyze the benefits and drawbacks of this enforced change from winter to summer and from summer to winter.

The European Union, for example, is already considering putting an end to this seasonal habit. Likewise, medical and scientific bodies are always warning us of the effects that this alteration usually has on our circadian rhythms.

Some people talk about risks to our health. Some people take weeks to get used to it and, in fact, children are usually the most affected. However, we know that the commercial and business sector appreciates this strategy to make more use of daylight hours.

Be that as it may, one thing is clear: we’ve never experienced a time shift during an enforced lockdown before. Let’s have a look at the possible effects.

A sunset.

Two ways in which the time change can affect us during confinement

A common phenomenon in the current context of forced confinement is that of opening your eyes in the morning and not knowing what day it is. This confusion only lasts a few seconds but is a direct consequence of the change in our routines. It doesn’t matter if it’s Monday or Sunday as, for many of us, our lifestyle is the same throughout the week.

This means that most of the population will hardly notice any negative effects of the time change. Yes, we can notice the change, but it’s actually very possible that, for many people, it’ll be less traumatic than other times, simply because there are no longer any work or school obligations.

On the other hand, those who have to continue working in this current situation will experience changes. Let’s look at this in detail.

Time change during lockdown for people forced to stay at home

The time change has a nice advantage, as we’ll be exposed to more natural light. This factor can be a very positive element in the current context.


Having more light in the house improves many different physiological processes. It stimulates the production of melatonin. As a result, this promotes processes such as a better night’s rest, better memory, and the production of serotonin, the well-being hormone.

The simple fact of using less artificial light at home also benefits us. And not just financially, as letting sunlight in through the windows and balconies helps to relax and motivate us and gives us a sense of well-being.


However, the time change during confinement may also have a disadvantage: the evenings will be longer.

In this case, you may feel frustration and an almost instinctive desire to want to go out. This will undoubtedly be your main problem. In view of this situation, it’s important that you strengthen your daily routine in your days of confinement, taking these aspects into account.

Take advantage of the morning hours to carry out your duties, such as teleworking, homework, childcare, and cleaning the house, among others.

You should establish more motivating activities for the afternoon in order to be mentally or physically busy. Be aware that it’s precisely during this time that you’ll need to manage your boredom, frustration, and anxiety in a much better way.

A man drinking coffee.

People who continue to work

The time change during lockdown can be hard for people who continue to work. It’s a stress factor that can increase anxiety, sleep problems, and a negative emotional state.

A University of California study by Dr. Beth Ann Malow explains that time changes are, in themselves, problematic for our brains. Every cell in our body has an internal circadian clock. This clock regulates internal processes, including body temperature, metabolism, hormone levels, blood pressure and, most importantly, alertness. As a result, many of our health workers and supermarket staff may feel more stressed.

It’s true that not all people react in the same way. But if the COVID-19 pandemic has already placed them in a state of high anxiety, pressure, and responsibility, then the time shift may be another problematic factor.

In these cases, it’s a priority that, during the next few days, they take care of their rest schedules. They should get eight hours’ sleep and maintain the same routines. Additionally, in their time away from work, they should try to disconnect and relieve their stress. These people are vitally important at this time, which is why we must attend to their needs.

As you can see, the time change during lockdown can affect us in many different ways.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.