Spring Ahead - Daylight Savings Time and Your Health
Sunday, March 12th we time travel forward one hour for Daylight Saving Time. This means the sun will rise later in our day and daylight will stream a bit longer into our evenings.
DST was first proposed in 1895 by New Zealand entomologist George Hudson, based on his theory that doing so would maximize the use of the sun’s light. Canada was the first to use DST in 1908, followed by Germany and Austria in 1916 and then in 1918 in the United States.
Research on Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time (DST) was used as a tool to conserve energy. However, research on the effects of DST on energy savings has shown no significant results. As such, some countries have continued to remain on Standard Time, forgoing DST altogether. In fact, several states and US territories choose not to practice DST—with more considering a halt to the time shifting.
Daylight Saving Time has been shown to affect our health, both mental and physical. Studies report that falling back to gain one hour of daylight in the autumn months causes reductions in sleep and increases rates of cardiac issues, stroke,cortisol production, and vehicular accidents. The good news is that these issues are worst within the first three weeks of Daylight Saving Time. As our body’s circadian rhythm adjusts to the time change, the risk of these adverse experiences greatly reduces.
However, one of the most salient findings regarding DST is the negative effect it has on mood and well-being, particularly in the northern latitudes of the earth. As we spring ahead, keep the following in mind.
Self-Care Tips for Daylight Saving Time
Learn about your circadian rhythm. This is the internal biochemical cycle we all have that regulates our body with respect to sleeping, feeding, and well-being. Circadian rhythms are greatly affected by shifting of daytime sunlight.
To help reset your body clock, consider a dawn-to-dusk alarm to help you adjust to DST.
Speaking of your body clock, ditch the technology a few hours before bedtime. Blue Light Syndrome interferes with melatonin production, the sleep hormone that makes for good, restful sleep.
Keep a set sleep schedule. No sleeping in late or going to bed too early. And watch those naps. Too many in a day or taking too-long a nap is a no-nos.
Always start the day with a healthy breakfast. Food fuels your body for the day.