It’s That Time Of Year Again…Daylight Savings Time
Don’t you just love when there is more daylight at the end of the day? Not everyone feels that way, but I do.
There are good reasons on either side of the argument for and against the clock changes we make twice a year. I am always happy when we ‘spring forward’, because it means more daylight hours when it matters to me. It also means the warm weather is just around the corner. But on the other side of that coin, it takes me several days to get back into the circadian rhythm that aligns with the clock.
There have been studies on the impact biennial clock changing has on our health. And the results aren’t great.
Most of the countries in the world, follow standard time all year long, but much of the US changes to Daylight Savings Time (DST) in March and returns to Standard Time (ST) in November every year. There is some debate about the negative impact this change has on people’s health. I know in my case, it takes me a few days to adjust, as I previously noted.
The downside of DST
- It may only be an hour but some people take weeks and even months to recover from the loss of sleep
- The body starts to work toward the sleep state from the moment we wake until bedtime
- We disrupt our circadian rhythm, or our built in 24 hour clock, when we do the time change
- Our internal clock is impacted by the light/dark periods of the day
- Early in the DST cycle, we receive less morning light and more evening light which can throw off our rhythm
- When our internal clock is not in synch with the sun we are sleepy in the morning and awake at night
When we are in a constant state of sleep deprivation, there are other health problems we should consider:
- Can raise blood pressure
- Causes cognitive issues and contributes to the development of dementia and other cognitive disorders
- Our hunger hormone signals can be impaired, causing weight gain
- Can contribute to mental health issues like depression
- Slows metabolism
- Contributes to cardiovascular disease
There are statistics that show that automobile accident rates increase during the week after the switch to DST. Additionally, heart attack and stroke rates increase, work related injuries and certain digestive issues seem to increase during this time.
What can we do to offset the risk?
- Maintain a sleep routine and get 7-9 hours of sleep per night consistently
- Follow the morning light daily by spending as much outdoor time in the morning as you can to restore circadian rhythm
- Maintain good sleep hygiene and pre-sleep routines by reducing/eliminating caffeine, alcohol and blue light exposure before bed
- Exercise in the morning to wake yourself up and set your internal clock
I know I walk around in a bit of fog for the first week of DST but I love having the daylight at the end of my busy days so I feel like I can still go out and take a nice walk in the neighborhood.
What are your thoughts on DST vs ST?
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I am always so happy for the return of the sun!! It does take an adjustment, but it’s one I am happy to make. And usually, for me, it helps if I am getting up early enough in the morning already, so that it feels like less of a change.
I feel the same way Jeanine. Any time I can feel like I’m getting more daylight in my day, I’m ok with that. I was in Alaska in June several years ago and LOVED the fact that it never got completely dark while we were there. Of course, in the winter they don’t really see daylight which would not feel good to me.