Every spring, we move our clocks forward and lose an hour of sleep. And every spring it feels like it takes days and sometimes weeks to get used to the spring forward time change.
Unfortunately, the effects of daylight saving time on the body can be unhealthy. However, there are some things you can do to adjust to these big yearly changes. They may even have a positive effect on your health.
Health effects of daylight saving time
Studies have shown that time changes over time cause:
- Immune system disruption
- Increase in depression and mood disorder symptoms
- Liver function disruption
- More risk for heart attacks
- More risk for strokes
- More risk for traffic accidents
- Sleep problems
While most of the impact of daylight saving time in your health is negative, there are a few positives. For example, with more daylight hours, you may spend more time outside. That extra hour can give you more time for evening walks or physical activity in general. Plus, this also means more opportunities to take advantage of natural sunlight and more vitamin D exposure.
Tips to help you spring forward
There are several ways you can keep yourself healthy when we spring our clocks forward.
Slowly change your bedtime
A week before the time changes, try changing your bedtime. Go to bed 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes early. That way, you won’t miss that extra hour too much.
Take a short nap
If you weren’t able to plan a week ahead or feel like you’re just too tired in the days after the time change, take a nap. Don’t camp out in your bed for hours though. Aim for a quick 20- to 30-minute nap. And don’t nap too close to bedtime.
Wipe out your social schedule for a week or two
Take it easy for the first week or two. Keep your social schedule light. If possible, avoid any stressful deadlines at work. You may even want to take a day off. This will give you some time to relax and get used to the lack of sleep.
Maintain your sleep schedule
But while you lighten your daily schedule, don’t change your nightly one. Keep your bedtime routine. Go to bed at the same time. Wake up at the same time. Don’t be tempted to sleep in on Sunday morning after the time changes.
Enjoying some exercise each day can help you get a good night’s sleep. It can also help improve your mood. This can help with the sleep problems or depression that may come with the time change. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
Create a comfy place to sleep
Your bedroom should be a comfortable place to sleep every day of the year. But make some extra effort for daylight savings time. Keep it cool and dark. Make sure you have a comfortable mattress with soft, clean sheets and pillows. Avoid screens before bed. If you need something to do, read or listen to music instead of watching TV or playing games on your phone.
Watch what you eat and drink
Finally, watch your diet. Eat a light meal at night. Avoid spicy or fatty foods that could keep you up with heartburn. Avoid alcohol and caffeine if possible. If you do drink them, don’t drink them more than six hours before bedtime.
Learn more about the health care services we offer at Mercy Health.