Your Health and Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time (DST) messes with our body clock. According to studies, the 1-hour time change can trigger underlying health issues.
Changing the clocks does not create extra daylight, but it shifts the time the Sun rises and sets. This can cause disruptions to our body clock, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm.
Lack of Sleep
Setting your clock forward 1 hour for DST in spring might mean losing an hour of sleep on the morning after the change. For some people, this may just be a minor annoyance. However, the lack of sleep can have unfortunate effects in those predisposed.
- A Swedish study found that the risk of having a heart attack increases in the first 3 weekdays after switching to DST in the spring.
- Tiredness induced by the clock change is thought to be the main cause for the increase in traffic accidents on the Monday following the start of DST.
- On Mondays after the start of DST there were more workplace injuries, and the injuries were of greater severity compared with other Mondays.
- The start of DST has also been linked to miscarriages for in vitro fertilization patients.
Losing 1 hour of afternoon daylight after setting the clocks back to standard time can trigger mental illness, including bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression.
- A Danish study found an 11% increase in depression cases after the time seasonal change. The cases dissipated gradually after 10 weeks.
- An Australian study found that male suicide rates increased the days after the spring and fall DST shift.
Even though disrupting the circadian rhythm can have some serious effects, most studies find that they pass during the days following a DST change.
Facebook found that, following a DST switch, more people were saying they were “tired” than on a normal Monday. However, many Facebook users also reported that they were feeling “happy” and “wonderful”—perhaps an effect of the longer evenings.
More Sleep = Better Health
Just like losing 1 hour of sleep in spring can have a negative effect, gaining 1 hour of sleep can do the opposite:
- On the Monday after the DST transition in the fall heart attack rates decrease.
- At the same time, the number of car accidents in Canada decreased slightly.
Being tired can decrease productivity, concentration, and general well-being. There are some simple ways of making it easier to handle the clock change:
- Set your alarm to wake up a little earlier than usual on the Friday and Saturday before the DST switch. This makes it easier to get out of bed on Monday morning.
- Eat a healthy breakfast first thing. Food tells your body it is the start of the day.
- Go for a walk. Light, and especially sunlight, helps to adjust your body clock.
- Help your child adjust by putting him or her to bed a little bit earlier the week before the time change.