As daylight saving time comes to a close on Sunday, and we prepare to set our clocks back an hour, it is important to recognize the unexpected impacts this time adjustment can have on our well-being.
Our bodies don’t readily adjust to change, and moving the clock back temporarily increases the risk of ischemic stroke, as per a 2016 Finnish study. This type of stroke, caused by a clot blocking blood flow to the brain, saw an 8 percent overall increase in the first two days following the time change.
The risk was even higher for those over 65, with a 20 percent rise. Fortunately, rates returned to normal after two days, attributed to disruptions in our circadian rhythm.
While the springtime change in daylight saving time raises heart attack risks, the fall change lowers them. A study in BMJ found a 24-percent jump in heart attack risk the Monday after the springtime change but a 21-percent drop on the Tuesday after returning to standard time, likely due to gaining an extra hour of sleep.
Navigating the Hazards of Fall Daylight Saving Time
Research indicates that car accidents can increase as daylight saving time ends because it gets darker earlier. Nighttime driving is riskier, accounting for 50 percent of traffic deaths, even though it makes up only a quarter of the total driving time.
Despite gaining an hour, changing sleep patterns can lead to feelings of “jet lag,” including sluggishness and difficulty concentrating. On the bright side, earlier exposure to daylight in the fall can help synchronize circadian rhythms.
Depression diagnoses tend to rise immediately after the transition from daylight saving to standard time, according to a Danish study. The negative psychological impact is associated with the arrival of long, dark, and cold days.
To help your body adjust to the time change, consider delaying your bed and wake times in 15-minute increments leading up to it. Maintain a dark bedroom environment in the morning and limit evening light exposure and electronic use. Reset your internal clocks by eating breakfast, exposing yourself to light, and being physically active upon waking.