Daylight Saving Time – More Sleep, Less Accidents

Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on Sunday, November 3, this year – welcome news to those looking forward to an extra hour of sleep!

Benjamin Franklin was first to propose the notion, but it didn’t come into acceptance until World War II. Although there’s more daylight summer hours, for many people the time change results in sleep disturbance and missed appointments. Because our bodies’ internal clocks (circadian rhythms) operate on a slightly longer than 24-hour cycle, “falling back” doesn’t affect our bodies as much as “springing forward.” After the beginning of Daylight Saving Time in March, it may take as long as a week to feel normal, but in the fall, usually one night does it.

In the days following the spring change, heart attacks, job-related injuries and car accidents all increase. However, after we turn the clocks back, there’s a decrease in heart attacks and car accidents. But we should stay alert to not overextending our work days. Workers who put in long hours could be making both the morning and evening commute in darkness.

For some individuals, the dark evenings and trouble sleeping can lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year.  Don’t ignore that feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues”. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation balanced throughout the year.

Here are some steps that can help keep you feeling well:

  • Expose yourself to plenty of light. When it starts to get dark out early, turn on the lights around the house. Get outside during the day for natural light.
  • Walk briskly outdoors, even in cold weather. During winter months, the best time to walk is at midday, when the sun is at its highest point.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, at least 3 days a week. Regular physical activity helps reduce both depression and fatigue.
  • Maintain your regular activities, including interaction with family and friends, as much as you can. Social contact and support is very important when suffering from mood disorders.
  • Increase your daily intake of Vitamin D. A minimum of 400 IUs per day is recommended. Discuss higher doses with your healthcare professional for the time of year when your Seasonal Affective Disorder symptoms are present.
  • Open blinds and curtains in your home and office to let in as much natural light as possible.

How does the time change affect you?  Let us know in the comments section.