We just sprung forward – well our clocks did anyway. Daylight-saving time forced us to advance our clocks ahead one hour, which doesn’t seem like much and it is nice to have more sunlight in the evenings. But waking up the entire first week after this time change makes it seem like more than just an hour loss.
How this time change actually affects you and your body can depend on your sleep habits, your health and your lifestyle. However, the big overall problems this time change can cause makes us question whether or not it’s really worth it.
It is known that losing an hour in the spring is more difficult for us to adjust to than gaining that hour in the fall. According to The American Journal of Cardiology, during the first week of daylight-saving time, there is a spike in heart attacks. They found the reason behind this is that losing an hour of sleep increases stress and provides less time to recover at night, especially for those who have health issues to begin with.
In addition, some studies actually show an overall increase in accident rates the Monday following daylight-saving time. Sleepiness is the main cause of this increase. The research shows that staying with daylight-saving time all year round could decrease pedestrian and vehicle related deaths.
What can you do to help your internal clock adapt better?
Since our body naturally makes the sleep-inducing substance, melatonin, when there is a lack of light, it is important to expose yourself to light during the waking hours, but not when it’s dark outside. This way you produce melatonin during the hours you need sleep, hopefully allowing you to get a solid nights’ rest.
Create a sleep-friendly environment for yourself by eliminating caffeine and alcohol, exercising several hours before bed and incorporating relaxation techniques into your bedtime routine.
Start adjusting to the time change a few days before it actually happens. Try going to bed 30 minutes earlier and getting up 30 minutes earlier. Then when the change happens, it won’t seem so difficult to make the adjustment.
And for an overall check on your health, make sure to head to a 9Health Fair this spring – there are 130+ various locations all around the state. Visit our Find a Fair page for a location near you! It’s important to know your numbers and keep your health in check so your body can handle situations like daylight-saving time.
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