This weekend people had an extra hour of sweet sleep. However, this extra hour of sleep may not be as sweet as it seems. How does daylight saving time impact our mental health and physical health?
The majority of the United States, Canada, and several other nations observe daylight saving time (DST), which is a one-hour clock change that starts in March and ends in November.
With DST follows several effects, including sleep disturbances and mood switches. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that affects about 5% of the population and is associated with a decrease in daylight hours in the fall.
The body's biological clock is thrown off when there is less sunlight in the fall, which might result in depressive symptoms.
As time returns to normal, people see less sunlight during the day. When there is less natural light present, our brains may produce less serotonin, which is essential for several bodily processes including mood, digestion, and sleep.
Additionally, more melatonin is produced during longer nights. Melatonin, a hormone associated with sleep, is released by the circadian cycle and is the reason people feel drowsy in the evening.
Researchers have shown that melatonin may have a role in treating seasonal affective disorder.
The body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, is heavily impacted by our surroundings.
The main source of vitamin D, which is necessary for both physical and mental well-being, is natural sunlight. SAD is more prone to strike during periods when there is less sunlight.
Aside from mood changes and potential depressive symptoms, driving may also be a concern.
Tips for overcoming the time change
It might take our body a few days to acclimate as a result. But eventually, your body will adjust to the time change.
Here are a few tips for driving safely while tired after dark:
- Steer clear of driving from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. and during rush hour. Because a person's circadian cycle is at its weakest during this time, this is an especially risky time to drive.
- Prioritize rest. Everyone should aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Keep an eye out for indicators of sleepy driving: Slow eyelid openings, yawning, mild head swaying, squirming in the seat, trouble keeping in your lane, trouble maintaining speed, and delayed reactions are all indicators of sleepy driving.
- Recognize additional elements influencing sleepy driving: Driving alone, lengthy drives, prolonged periods of high traffic, and monotonous road conditions, may all contribute to tiredness.
In a 2020 study published in Sleep, healthcare workers noted that there was an 18% increase in human errors following the week of DST.
Here are a few tips for dealing with the time change overall:
- Falling back means things start getting darker earlier. Let all of the natural light into your home in the mornings to indulge in the sunlight while you can.
- Continue to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends, to ensure a regular consistent routine.
- Reduce screen time and blue light before going to bed.
Overall, it is advised by experts to maintain a regular sleep schedule, avoid napping, consume nutritious food, and expose oneself to as much light as possible.
- Sleep Foundation. Do We Lose Sleep to Seasonal Affective Disorder?
- Sleep Foundation. Daylight Saving Time.
- Neurology. Effects of Season and Daylight Saving Time Shifts on Sleep Symptoms: Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging.
- British Journal of Pharmacology. New perspectives on the role of melatonin in human sleep, circadian rhythms and their regulation.