Spring is a season that comes along with a lot of changes, many of them which we love and cherish. Daylight savings is one of those changes our bodies doesn’t particularly like, though, since it costs us a full hour of our precious sleep (which we don’t get enough of already). On March 13 at 2 a.m. our clocks went forward an hour, and although we might think of it as nothing more than a nuisance, the truth is daylight saving time can affect our health in negative ways. It turns out that whole hour of sleep has a bigger effect on our bodies than we might think.
Here are four ways daylight saving time is bad for our bodies and health.
1. Your sleep cycle gets completely thrown off
Clocks are easy to adjust, but our internal circadian rhythm is a different story. Your circadian rhythm is primarily responsible for your sleep-wake cycle, hormone production, internal temperature, and metabolism, and the smallest changes in your life — like losing an hour of sleep — can have an effect on how well it functions.
You might find that you have trouble waking up or going to sleep at a normal time since daylight savings, because your circadian rhythm is still going by its own schedule. As a result, you might feel exhausted throughout the day and thus less productive at work than usual. A study in 2007 published in Current Biology found that many people never really adjust to daylight saving time at all, leaving them sleep deprived for a very long time.
2. You might be more prone to having a heart attack
It’s unbelievable to think something as minor as the time could have an effect on your heart health, but studies have shown that the rate of heart attacks increases by 24 percent the week after daylight saving time begins. Conversely, the rate of heart attacks decreases by 21 percent the week after daylight saving time ends. Researchers suggest this is because the sudden change in sleep patterns causes more stress on the body, especially the heart.
3. You’re more likely to get into accidents or harm yourself
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that more work accidents take place in the weeks right after daylight saving time starts. Similarly, researchers have found that people tend to get into more car accidents and make more reckless decisions during this time, all because their cognitive abilities have declined from the disruption of their circadian rhythm. This even translates to making worse choices in our diet, such as overeating or reaching for an excessive amount of junk food.
4. You’re at a higher risk for depression or suicide
In 2008, the journal Sleep and Biological Rhythms published a study that showed an increase in suicides in Australia in the first few weeks after daylight saving time. The exact reason why this happened is unknown, but it’s suspected to be because of the higher levels of stress, as well as an unsatisfactory amount of sleep.
If you feel like your health is significantly suffering since daylight saving time kicked in, don’t be shy. Call up your doctor and explain to them what you’re experiencing, because you can prevent these things from happening if you keep an eye on your overall health.