Your Health During and After Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of setting the clocks an hour ahead of the standard time. The change, which moves an hour of natural daylight from the morning to the evening, costs millions of Americans an extra 60 minutes of sleep throughout spring and summer. Unfortunately, the time change may do more harm than just make you feel groggy.

Here are some aspects of your life and health DST can affect:

  1. Heart Health

Setting the clocks ahead for even an hour can take a toll on your heart. According to a study, daylight saving time transitions may increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

  1. Diet and Appetite

Transitioning to daylight saving time can wreak havoc on your diet. Sleep deprivation influences the hormone levels in your body, causing changes in appetite and weight gain. As such, you may experience a sudden increase in cravings and binge eating.

  1. Mood and Productivity

As your body clock transitions into daylight saving time, disrupted sleep cycles become inevitable. When springing forward, especially as a regular office employee, your body needs to adjust to sleeping earlier. As a result, you may feel restless during the night, and then lethargic, moody, and unproductive in the day due to the lack of sleep.

How to Overcome Daylight Savings Time Transitions

You can avoid the health risks associated with daylight saving time by taking gradual steps, including:

  • Going to bed and waking up earlier than usual
  • Exposing yourself to sunlight after waking up, which can help reset your body clock
  • Stop drinking caffeinated beverages and other stimulants after lunch
  • Avoid taking naps since it can prevent you from falling asleep faster at night

What Happens When Daylight Savings Time Ends?

After DST, almost everyone in the United States will need to reset their clocks. Although an extra hour of sleep is a wish granted for many, it can also take a toll on your health. You may experience:

  1. Disturbed Sleep and Insomnia

Did you finally adjust to DST? Well, you need to re-acclimate your body clock all over again. While an extra hour of sleep seems heavenly, it can disrupt normal sleep patterns and cause certain health conditions, such as insomnia and fatigue.

  1. Depression

Once DST ends, the sun will go down earlier, meaning sunlit days will be much shorter. People will spend more waking hours in the dark, which may lead to an increased risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that can be difficult to deal with in the winter months.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), SAD manifests in sleep difficulty or excessive sleeping, feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of suicide, fatigue, and weight gain.

How to Overcome the End of Daylight Savings Time

The simplest way to adjust your body clock is to start changing your sleep schedule before the time change. Beginning the end of DST by having good sleeping habits and getting enough rest will help your body acclimate better.

When it comes to overcoming SAD, it may help to eat healthier, maintain an active lifestyle, and to expose yourself to sunlight every morning. In some cases, beating the winter blues may require medical treatments, including medications, light therapy, and psychotherapy. If you or someone you love needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.