Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a practice that has been used for over a century in various countries to make better use of daylight during the longer days of spring and summer. When DST ends and we “fall back” by setting the clocks one hour behind, it can have a noticeable impact on our bodies and daily routines. In this article, we will explore the effects of the end of Daylight Saving Time on your body and offer some tips on how to ease the transition.
One of the most immediate and noticeable effects of the end of Daylight Saving Time is a disruption in your sleep pattern. Turning the clocks back can lead to a sudden loss of one hour of daylight in the evening. As a result, your body’s internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, may need some time to adjust to the new schedule. This can cause you to feel groggy and fatigued as your body struggles to adapt.
Increased Melatonin Production:
The decreased exposure to natural light in the evening can trigger an earlier release of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. This means that you may start feeling drowsy earlier than usual, making it challenging to stay awake during the evening hours.
Disrupted Daily Routines:
The time change can disrupt your daily routines, affecting your productivity and overall well-being. For example, if you’re used to exercising or socializing in the evening, you may find it harder to do so when it gets dark earlier. This disruption can lead to feelings of lethargy and a decreased motivation to engage in activities.
Increased Risk of Accidents:
Studies have shown that the end of Daylight Saving Time is associated with an increase in accidents and health-related issues. The sudden shift in time can lead to more accidents on the road, at work, and at home due to the temporary confusion and fatigue people experience during the adjustment period.
The change in daylight hours can also affect your mood. Some people may experience a form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) during this time, with symptoms such as sadness, irritability, and a lack of energy. The reduced exposure to natural light can contribute to these feelings.
Strategies for Coping:
While the end of Daylight Saving Time can have a disruptive impact on your body and daily life, there are strategies you can employ to make the transition smoother:
- Gradual Adjustment: Start adjusting your daily schedule a few days before the time change. Go to bed and wake up 15 minutes earlier each day until you’re aligned with the new time.
- Expose Yourself to Natural Light: Spend more time outdoors during daylight hours, especially in the morning. Natural light can help reset your internal clock and improve your mood.
- Limit Caffeine and Electronics: Avoid caffeine and screens, such as phones and computers, in the evening as they can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
- Stick to a Routine: Maintain a consistent daily routine with regular sleep and meal times to help your body adapt to the new schedule more easily.
The end of Daylight Saving Time can disrupt your sleep, daily routines, and overall well-being. However, with some planning and the implementation of healthy habits, you can ease the transition and minimise the negative effects on your body. Remember that your body will eventually adjust to the new time, and you’ll be back to your regular routine in no time.
– Roenneberg, T., & Merrow, M. (2007). Entrainment of the human circadian clock. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology, 11(1), a033662.
– Khalsa, S. B., & Jewett, M. E. (2003). Cajochen, and Charles A. Czeisler, “A phase response curve to single bright light pulses in human subjects,” Journal of Physiology, 549.3 (2003): 945-952.
– Lahti, T., Leppämäki, S., Lönnqvist, J., & Partonen, T. (2006). Transition to daylight saving time reduces sleep duration plus sleep efficiency of the deprived sleep. Neuroscience Letters, 406(3), 174-177.
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Daylight Saving: Suggestions to help workers adapt to the time change. Retrieved from https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2016/03/09/daylight-savings/.
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Here Comes the Sun! Tips to Adapt to Daylight Saving Time. Retrieved from https://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2022/03/08/time-change/.
– Psychology Today. (2022). The Health Effects of Daylight Savings Time. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/evidence-based-living/202203/the-health-effects-daylight-savings-time.
– National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2018). Drowsy driving. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drowsy-driving.
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