How Do Our Bodies Cope With Changes in Daylight Saving Time

A bi-annual tradition since 1966 when the Uniform Time Act was enacted is happening this month whether we enjoy its benefits or not, changing our clocks to daylight saving time. The ritual when going to daylight saving time causes us to lose an hour of sleep, as our day will only be 23 hours long. That one hour we will lose will shift from morning to evening when daylight saving time begins. In 2007, our federal government specified that daylight saving time would apply from 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March until 2 a.m. on the first Sunday in November. Those dates this year will be March 13th and November 6th. 

So how do our bodies cope with the changes in daylight saving time? Daylight saving time can affect many people, especially those who battle depression and anxiety. Other health effects from daylight saving time could even include heart attacks and increased headaches. With light changes throughout seasonal changes people have to try and adapt their schedules accordingly to obtain enough Vitamin D, which helps in battling their depression or anxiety. Vitamin D is an essential component for people whether it comes from natural sunlight or a special lamp to boost serotonin levels. As fall transitions into winter it becomes tougher on people to acquire that needed sunlight as there are less sunny hours in the day which cause people’s depression levels go up, yet when winter transitions to spring, people’s depression levels usually go down, as they are able to get out and about more. Sleep schedules are also affected by daylight saving time changes as one study found on average a person loses 40-45 minutes sleep during the “Spring Forward” phase of daylight saving time, however we gain an hour in the “Fall Back” phase so do we even out in the end? 

Helpful tips we can do to prepare ourselves for the adjustments in the time changes are as follows: 

  • Gradually adjust bedtime 2-3 days before transitioning to daylight saving time by waking up 15-20 min earlier than usual.
  • Establish a consistent sleep schedule routine even on the weekends by getting at least 7 hours of sleep a night. 
  • Nap in moderation by not exceeding naps longer than 20 minutes in length. 
  • Spend time outside. 
  • Refrain from consuming caffeine too close to bedtime. 
  • Refrain from alcohol consumption before bed. 

Being “proactive” with our own preparations when it comes to daylight saving time might be the best way to manage the time changes and “cope” in in the best way we’re able to…

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