Does Daylight Savings Harm Your Health?
It’s that time of year again when you must remember if you set your clocks right. Daylight savings is here, and your clocks will soon fall back. Daylight savings time brings earlier sunsets and darker commutes home. It can easily throw off your routine. Bedtimes feel off, and morning alarms take adjustment periods. It’s easy to forget that it may also significantly impact your body. In fact, in response to the negative effects the Covid-19 pandemic had on mental health, legislation was presented to keep daylight savings time through November. The Sunshine Protection act was introduced to congress in 2021. The bill was defended by stating, “Americans are dealing with enough change and challenges already.”
Your body may be affected in ways you may not think about. Every cell on this planet has a Circadian Rhythm or a 24-hour cycle. Disrupting this rhythm, like daylight savings time, causes stress.
Dr. Joseph Takahashi, one of the leaders in the continued discovery of the circadian Rhythm, said, “Waking up even an hour earlier adds to (the) stresses on our bodies.” Dr. Takahashi has observed a correlation between the disruption to our sleep and day cycles leads to a higher risk of depression, obesity, and heart attacks.
Why is Daylight Savings hard on your Health?
As you read above, Daylight Savings time comes with many challenges and could have startling effects on your health outside of throwing off your sleep schedule. But what exactly causes this, and what are they, you might be asking?
Depression and Moodiness- Changing your sleep schedule affects everyone. Ever stay up too late binge-watching the last half of your favorite show and find yourself cranky, moody, or quick-tempered the next day? Now imagine this change for multiple weeks. Its effects will be amplified. In addition to the change in your sleep schedule, this time comes with less time outside and in the sun. More time spent inside due to colder temperatures causes us to get less sunshine. Many of us find it dark by the time we get off work.
The lack of sun exposure leads to a deprivation of vitamin D. This deprivation can increase the intensity of seasonal depressive symptoms. Seasonal depression and moodiness begin to hit their max at the onset of daylight savings time. A study conducted on hospital patients showed an increase in depressive episodes by 11 percent at the start of Daylight saving time. More on that later.
Obesity and Weight Gain - With Seasonal depression comes binge eating. Your body craves that level of serotonin, so it begins to crave the things that lead to those good feelings. For many of us, this can lead to food cravings, overeating, and a breakdown in our dietary discipline. Balanced diets are replaced with feel-good foods, which are often insufficient for us. Why is this, you might be asking? Changes in the sleep cycle have been shown to cause an increase in the hormone that causes hunger and a decrease in the hormone that helps you feel satisfied after eating. This change, mixed with eating habits associated with depression, the many food-abundant holidays following the time change, and the lack of sunlight to get outside to exercise, create the perfect storm to gain weight.
How can you combat the adverse effects of daylight savings?
Vitamin D - Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, plays a vital role in our mental health. Sunshine helps your body produce Vitamin D. Scientists have shown that Vitamin D receptors can be found in several areas of the brain that control mood and behavior . Additionally, Vitamin D has been prescribed by doctors to help in the battle against depression symptoms.
As mentioned above, Daylight savings time causes us to receive less sun exposure, resulting in less vitamin D being produced. Vitamin D supplementation can help combat this effect. Follow along here to learn about our top Vitamin D products.
Melatonin and Sleep Habits - Healthy sleep habits can improve your daily life. Practicing good sleep habits and easing yourself into the time change can impact the effects. Good sleep habits include:
- Consistent bedtimes and a slow transition - Having a consistent bedtime allows your body to be in a routine. An hour change forces this bedtime to change. If you ease the change by slowly moving the time you begin your sleep routine back and making the same adjustment in the morning, you can help your body adjust quickly.
- Limit electronics and distractions - Your bed should be a place for sleep. Limiting other activities in your bed, such as reading and watching tv or scrolling through your favorite social media app, can help your body and mind fall asleep more quickly and have a more effective night of sleep.
Making these adjustments is not always easy. Adding a melatonin supplement to your bedtime routine can help you fall asleep quicker and give you a more effective night's sleep. This can help keep your Circadian rhythm intact and potentially limit the effects this time change has on your sleep routine. Here is our favorite vegan and kosher-friendly melatonin supplement.
Did you know?
As you’ve read, the change associated with daylight savings time can negatively impact your health and throw off your thinking. This can cause your decision-making skills, reaction times, and other cognitive abilities to be delayed or off. A study conducted in 2020 that looked at the ten days following the time change showed a 6 percent increase in fatal car accidents. Just another reason to make sure you make necessary adjustments outside of simply changing your clock during Daylight Savings. Minor adjustments and added supplementation can make a world of difference in your health and prepare you for any change that may come your way!