The clocks have changed!
The time change is never an easy adjustment, and losing an hour of afternoon daylight can be a gloomy preview for the dark winter months ahead. Beyond that, the twice-yearly time change can have serious effects on your health, natural rhythms and mood. In this blog, we will take a closer look at just what Daylight Saving Time does to your health.
Light is often our body’s natural time cue, so when you change the time - even if it's just 60 minutes - our body needs to alter our natural body clock and circadian rhythm (the sleep/wake cycle) as well. Even if you managed to get in an extra hour of sleep when Daylight Saving Time ended this weekend, you may still feel changes in your overall sleep patterns for a few days. This can make you sleepy, more irritated and can affect your memory and effectiveness throughout the day.
When we move the clocks back an hour in the fall, we end up losing one hour of afternoon daylight. This small change can trigger some mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Studies have also shown an increase in depression and male suicide rates immediately after a time change. These cases usually decrease after about 10 weeks.
The yearly time change has also been associated with an increase in heart attacks and strokes. A 2014 study found that on the Monday after Daylight Saving Time begins in the spring, 24% more people have heart attacks than on other Mondays throughout the year. On the flip side, the study noted a 21% decrease in heart attacks after DST ends in the fall. Researchers in Finland also found an 8% increase in stroke incidence for two days following the spring and fall time changes.
This time change can also affect your attention span. Reports show that people are more likely to waste time at work by watching YouTube videos or surfing the web the day after the time change. So, if you aren't feeling like you are on the top of your game, you're not the only one.
If you are driving in the few days following the time change, please be extra cautious. Studies have shown an increase in accidents in the evenings following the end of daylight savings time. The darker commute can make it harder to see crosswalks, pedestrians and road signs. Until you become accustomed to the light at dusk, make sure that you take extra care on the roads.
What can you do?
These are just some examples of how much a small action like changing our clocks by an hour can decrease our health and general well-being. Don’t worry though, there are some simple ways to make it easier to handle the clock change:
- Adjust your day. In the week leading up to the time change, set your alarm to wake up a little earlier than usual. Even a small 15-minute shift can make it easier to adjust, and easier to get out of bed on Monday morning.
- Eat a healthy breakfast. In the first few days after the time change, make an effort to eat a healthy breakfast as soon as you wake up. Food tells your body it is the start of the day.
- Go for a walk. Light exercise and activity can help your body adjust to the time change. If possible, walk outdoors. The sunlight will help adjust your body clock to the new time.
We hope you manage to get past the effects of the time change in just a day or two. Have a great week!