Sunday March 11th marks everyone’s favorite night: The night we all lose an hour of sleep to Daylight Saving Time. This night is more than just an annoyance; however, as it has been known to wreak havoc on sleep schedules. It isn’t just sleep that is affected by this shifting of the clock hand either. There are also health and safety issues that can and often do arise from the change. Here are a few things to look for as we make the change.

An increase in fatigue as well as headaches is common. Sunlight is known for suppressing the creation of melatonin, a chemical used by the body to induce sleep. With more sunlight available and an hour of sleep lost, it makes for a dangerous combination, particularly when so many Americans are already sleep deprived. “Losing an hour of sleep contributes to sleep debt. If you don’t make up the debt, it manifests in waking up tired, needing a lot of caffeine to get going, nodding off during the day,” said Shyam Subramanian, a pulmonologist at Baylor College of Medicine and medical director of the sleep lab at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, told the Houston Chronicle in 2010 (BedTimes).

A study done in 2008 by Sweden also showed an increase in heart attacks during the first week of daylight saving time. The cause, scientists speculated, was a loss of sleep. “The most likely explanation to our findings are disturbed sleep and disruption of biological rhythms,” Imre Janszky, the lead author of the study, told National Geographic in 2011 (BedTimes).

On the plus side, there are fewer traffic accidents, and this is likely due to the increase in daylight, which can make it safer to drive (BedTimes).

While it is always unpleasant to change the clocks, just be sure to make a change in your schedule as well. Preventing a loss of sleep can go a long way in keeping your body healthy and keeping a nasty headache at bay.

Sweet dreams everyone!

Sources:

BedTimes. “Daylight saving time — The effects of springing ahead.” BedTimes, March 2013, https://bedtimesmagazine.com/2013/03/daylight-saving-time-the-effects-of-springing-ahead/. Accessed 27 December 2017.