Remember to set your clocks one hour ahead on Sunday, March 11, when we spring forward for daylight saving time. While it may seem like a minor change, it can have a major impact on your mood, appetite and even your heart.
Here are three ways the time change can affect your health:
Moving ahead one hour can disrupt your sleep cycle, resulting in you feeling restless at night and sleepy during the day. This lack of sleep can cause fatigue and irritability and can negatively affect your performance, memory and concentration.
Experts have found that setting the clocks ahead one hour—thus disturbing your sleep—is linked to an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke. For example, a 2014 study published in the journal Open Heart found a 25 percent jump in the number of heart attacks occurring the Monday after daylight saving time starts compared to other Mondays during the year.
In addition, researchers in Finland analyzed more than 10 years of stroke data and found that the overall rate of ischemic stroke was 8 percent higher during the first two days after a daylight saving time transition.
Sleep deprivation can also affect your hormone levels by increasing the release of ghrelin, a hormone that boosts appetite, and decreasing the release of leptin, a hormone that signals fullness. The result—people will have more cravings and potentially overeat.
What can you do to avoid health risks associated with the time change?
- Expose yourself to light (preferably sunlight) as soon as you wake up and throughout the waking hours as much as possible to help reset your body’s clock. Conversely, during the night hours, limit your exposure to bright light.
- Go to sleep and wake up a bit earlier in the days leading up to the time change to help your body adjust.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol and exercise several hours before bedtime, and create a calming ritual before bed to promote sleep.
- Avoid napping during this time change period, as it can impede your ability to sleep at night.
If you find yourself struggling to sleep long after the daylight saving time transition, or have other sleep issues, Carroll Hospital’s Sleep Disorders Center is an excellent resource to determine whether you may have a sleep disorder.