Effects of Daylight saving times on Health

What is Daylight Saving Times?

It is a common practice in most of the USA in which people set their clocks forward one hour from standard time in summer while reversing it again in fall. Daylight saving times start from the second Sunday of March and culminate on the first Sunday of November.  

Although these changes occur only twice a year but can have considerable impacts on daily routine and consequently on our health. However, it’s possible to prepare your body for the upcoming changes to lessen the risk of health issues triggered by daylight savings.

Does Daylight savings disrupt our sleep cycle?

Daylight savings aims to lessen an hour of our sleep in the summertime. Apparently, it doesn’t seem significant to change an hour of sleep, but your internal body clock called circadian rhythm gets severely affected by this abrupt change. Consequently, it can have adverse effects on your health also.  

What is a circadian rhythm or circadian cycle? It is a 24-hour cycle of the human body’s internal clock. It regulates the body’s sleep-wake process and usually repeats after every 24 hours. Sunlight is the primary factor that manages the cycle of the circadian rhythm. 

Sunlight acts as a stimulus for the brain. Thus, the brain gets active, alert, and awake on exposure. When sunset occurs, the brain starts producing a hormone called melatonin which acts as sleep stimuli for the brain. Thus, our brain remains sleepy until the sun rises. 

Thus, our circadian rhythm directly connects with the body’s hormonal system. Therefore, any slight change in it leads to hormonal imbalance, which causes serious health problems, including insomnia and poor immunity. 

Effects of Daylight saving times on Health:

Most adults require 7 to 9-hour sleep, while for children, it is healthy to have 10 hours of sleep.  According to a report, teens and tots are getting far less sleep than shift-workers due to studies and extracurricular activities.

The significant effects of sleeplessness appear in the form of stress and anxiety. Furthermore, daylight saving times make it more challenging. Some major health issues caused by the daytime savings are mentioned below;

  1. Dull mood and Depression:

 With 9 to 5 jobs or educational systems, we get in offices or schools when the sun rises and come out when the sun goes down. Unfortunately, we spent all our day indoors and left with no time to benefit from sunlight. 

Thus, less exposure to the sun during fall tends to decrease the Vitamin D production in our body. A reduced amount of Vitamin D leads to dullness in mood, fatigue, muscle pain, bone weakness, and Depression. 

In addition, decreased sleep also triggers various mental health issues. Furthermore, less exposure to sunlight also causes a seasonal affective disorder-a type of Depression that occurs due to the changes of seasons. 

  1. Sleepy and grumpy behavior: 

Mood swings depend on your health status. Therefore, if you are healthy, you will be happy and prosperous. In addition, your behavior is directly linked to hormones. Thus, any disturbance in the hormonal system leads to behavior change.

Reduced exposure to sunlight causes a decline in the production of melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone) and serotonin (happiness chemical). Consequently, it disturbs our sleep cycle and mood and makes us grumpy. 

  1. Cardiovascular risks:

Several studies show an increase in heart problems with the start of daylight savings in summer and end up in fall. Reports indicated a rise of 8% in the ratio of strokes during the first two days following both time changes. 

  1. Increase rate of vehicular crashes:

When we change the external clock cycle, it badly affects our internal systems. Therefore, we witness a lot of issues, including accidents. A report mentioned a 6% increase in accidents after the clock change. 

  1. Change in appetite:

During fallback, most people experience changes in their appetite. According to the NIH, you will feel hungry an hour earlier than usual. Thus, increased hunger pangs will lead to abnormal eating habits. 

How to prepare yourself for Daylight saving times?

1. Be ready for change:

To prepare your body for clock changes, start practicing by getting up 10 to 15 minutes early a few days before the daylight savings initiation. Thus, it will help you to manage the daylight transitions.

2. Follow a consistent sleep schedule:

Instead of panicking with the clock change, try to maintain your regular life routine. Thus, get up and hit the sack according to your schedule. 

3. Get out in the Sun:

Raise the curtains and blinds in the room immediately when you wake up to get exposed to the sun. In addition, you can also go for a walk during lunchtime or sit near a window to experience light therapy. It will be beneficial in the production of certain essential hormones.

4. Have a healthy sleep:

A healthy bedtime routine can have beneficial impacts on your health. To maintain a healthy sleep, you have to follow some healthy sleep hygiene habits such as,

  • Maintain a fixed time of sleeping and waking up
  • Avoid social media
  • Stop the use of caffeine 
  • Don’t exercise before going to bed
  • In addition, take a nap of only 15 to 20 minutes to have a sound sleep at night time.

5. Limit the intake of caffeine:

To get proper sleep at night, try to stop taking tea or coffee in the evenings and before bed. You don’t have to skip your bed tea but should limit the use of caffeinated beverages during daylight savings.

Studies showed that hospitals in the United States reported 11% more depression cases when the time changes in fall. Unfortunately, daylight saving times have become a fixture in about 70 countries, including America. 

Even though it’s not an easy task to manage daylight saving changes. However, we must cope with the conditions by following the above mentioned practices. These practices will not completely diminish the side-effects of the time change but can help you lessen its effects on your health. 

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