How Daylight Savings Affect Your Health

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the forward or backward shift of clocks to match the extra sunlight and dusk period that comes with spring and fall respectively. The time shift is usually made during the weekend, to decrease disruption of weekly activities.

Days are longer during summer and shorter in fall. This facilitated the proposal of DST by George Hudson in 1895. It was first implemented by the Germans on April 30th 1916. The days that mark the beginning of DST each year has changed over the centuries and this year, falls on March 11.

DST is observed only by a small percentage of the world population as Africa and Asia generally don't observe the change. In some countries, DST is observed only in few regions.

Studies show adverse health and sleep effects of the time changes. There is also a noticeable rise in accident levels the first 3 workdays after the change has been made. This is caused by the decrease in sleeping hours, and groggy drivers.

Another study shows increase in stroke rate the first week of DST. Cancer patients and people over 60 also have an increased risk of stroke during this period. Disruptions of any kind to sleeping pattern increase the risk of stroke as stroke is more likely to happen in the morning than any other time of the day. No one knows for sure if the increased rate is automatically due to DST, as the only factor that ties it to stroke is sleep pattern disruption.

There is also an 11% increase in depression and other seasonal affective disorders (SAD). Male suicide rates in Australia increase after the DST shift.

Other health issues associated with DST include heart attacks, increased risk of accidents, hormonal changes (example, in melatonin- the hormone that helps in sleep and wake) and difficulty in decision making.

Since time adjustment steals an hour in the morning, most people wake up the Monday after DST, feeling disoriented, mostly due to change in the circadian rhythm ( internal clock ) and the fact that your alarm goes off an hour early.

To help combat these effects, try sleeping 40 minutes to an hour earlier than you normally would. This gives your body more resting time. Good news is, your body only needs a period of 2 - 3 days to adjust to its new setting, and you'll be back to your normal routine in no time.

DST shifts during the fall prove to have the opposite effect as there is an hour increment in sleep time. There is significant decrease in accidents and heart attack rate the week after.

To help combat sleeplessness during spring DST shifts, you can:

  • Go for brisk walks in the sunlight regularly the week leading to the DST period.
  • Eat nutritious meals in the morning to jumpstart your day.
  • Go to sleep earlier than normal.
  • Engage in stretching and exercise before bed to help you feel rejuvenated in the morning.
  • Dim lights around you to help enable you to sleep better.
  • Give ample time between eating and going to bed.

With the information provided, you should be right in tune with everything regarding daylight savings. We have a group on Facebook where we share health and fitness related articles, tips and tricks that may not warrant a full blog post, etc. Anyone can join the group and it is set to 'closed' so only members can see the posts. Click the link now to JOIN the Natureal Health, Fitness & Weight Management Group.