Is Daylight Saving Time Bad For Our Health?
Daylight Saving Time starts next Sunday, March 12th. Although most of us enjoy the extra evening daylight, losing an hour of sleep can be more detrimental than you might think. In addition to fatigue and daytime sleepiness, springing forward causes decreases in performance, concentration, and memory common to sleep-deprived individuals.
Getting more restful sleep is a serious health concern. It’s one of the many topics our health coaches help clients with every day. Several studies have shown that Daylight Saving Time increases certain health risks, especially on the Monday following the switch.
Accidents, Injuries, and Strokes! Oh, My!
After the spring time change, traffic accidents are more frequent and workplace injuries are more common. A 2015 University of Colorado at Boulder study found a 17% increase in traffic fatalities on the Monday after the daylight saving time shift. Another study found an increase in the number and severity of workplace injuries. Hospitals experience a 10-24% increase in heart attacks among people with a history of heart disease, according to yet another study. (And strokes? There’s a study for that one, too.)
Why Daylight Saving Time Gets Us Down
It’s all related to our body’s internal circadian rhythm, the molecular cycles that regulate when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy, as well as our hunger and hormone production schedules. Because our bodies use light to set our internal clocks, shifting the hours of daylight causes confusion.
The good news is, with some advance preparation, you can minimize the effects of the time change. This week, do the following:
- Go to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier each night before the time change.
- Begin to adjust the timing of other daily routines that are “time cues” for your body.
- This Saturday night, set your clocks ahead one hour in the early evening. Then go to sleep at your normal bedtime.
- After the time change, head outdoors for some early morning sunlight on Sunday.
- Stick to your usual bedtime to get plenty of sleep before the workweek begins on Monday.