Blog 11/2/2017

Weekly Clinical Service Dose: Prevention Guidelines: Can Daylight Saving Time Affect Your Health?

On Sunday November 5, we will set our clocks behind one hour. Falling behind an hour can interrupt your circadian rhythm (or your sleep-wake cycle).

This shift can be stressful for your body and can affect your well-being in some surprising ways.

• It can take your body some time to adjust.  It can take up to a week to adjust to the change, whether it’s in the spring or in the fall, according to Harvard Health. It’s like jet lag without the travel (where’s the fun in that?). To make the transition as seamless as possible, experts recommend sticking to a fairly regular sleep and wakeup time. Naps also help.

• The time change can affect your productivity. A disruption in a sleep pattern may also cause a hiccup after you wake. Research shows the sleepiness caused by daylight saving time can lead to a loss in productivity the following day, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

• There are more drowsy drivers during the time change. Traffic accidents are more common around the start of daylight saving time in the spring, but there’s something to be said about the time change in general given that it affects a person’s sleep patterns. Studies have found that having the same time all year could reduce the number of deaths from accidents, potentially saving up to 366 lives per year.

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SOURCES: Sleep Medicine, Kryger, Meir, et al., Third Edition, 2000. Coren, S. (1996). Daylight savings time and traffic accidents. TheNew England Journal of Medicine, 334, 924. Daylight saving time and motor vehicle crashes: the reduction in pedestrian and vehicle occupant fatalities. Ferguson SA, Preusser DF, Lund AK, Zador PL, Ulmer RG. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Arlington, Va. The influence of daylight saving time on motor vehicle fatal traffic accidents. Norman J. Meyerhoff Department of Transportation, Transportation Systems Center, Kendall Square, Cambridge, Mass.

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