Each year, when Daylight Savings Time (DST) arrives in the spring and ends in the fall, we struggle to adjust with the time change. Although we get an extra hour of sleep, which is especially nice when the weather gets colder, it also gets dark earlier than it did during the summertime. Needless to say, DST is a tough time of year for everyone as it can affect our health and how we go about in our daily activities.
Your Circadian Rhythm
While the hour we gain as we “fall back” is often much easier to deal with than the hour we lose when we “spring ahead”, daylight savings messes with our circadian rhythm. What is circadian rhythm, anyway? According to the National Sleep Foundation, our circadian rhythm rises and falls at different times of the day, but our strongest sleep drive (feeling of sleepiness) typically occurs between 2 and 4 am and then again between 1 and 3 pm. When we experience shifts in our sleep, the dips or periods of sleepiness can become more intense. Obviously, our rhythms may be more off when we miss a hour of sleep, but it can also experience some changes if we gain a hour. Experts recommend sticking to your sleep schedule rather than staying up late the night before the DST.
Get More Sunlight
By the time DST ends, you may notice that the sun is starting to set around 5 or 6 pm, which is a big change from long summer nights just a few months prior. With a decrease in sunlight the risk of feeling a little blue increase. Since the sunlight is a good source of Vitamin D, we may start to become deficient as we start to approach winter. Vitamin D deficiencies can lead to certain cancers and even heart disease. Similarly, a lack of sun can lead to depression, may even compromise our immune systems, or leave us feeling sluggish. Rather than waiting until you are feeling sick or sad, consider taking Vitamin D supplements, get outside when the sun is at its optimal point, and invest in some light therapy.
Keep in mind that it may take your body awhile to adjust to the time change, but if you’re feeling particularly bluesy or just need a little boost in your day, find happiness in some of the more simple, comical, and calming things in life. Even try to rearrange your home décor to boost your mood.
Be Careful on the Roads
Even though you’re technically getting an extra hour of sleep, you’re getting an extra hour of darkness. This kind of change can make roadways even more hazardous than usual. First of all, some people don’t drive well after dusk. Between night vision issues and general discomfort with driving after dark, you may encounter some overly cautious, yet dangerous drivers. Secondly, evening rush hour is more likely to occur at dusk or after dark, depending on where you live.
When it’s dark, our visibility is more likely to be impaired, increasing our car accident risk, and we may also be naturally more tired, potentially putting more fatigued drivers on the road. The best thing you can do is drive defensively as you usually would and avoid driving when you are tired or if you don’t feel comfortable driving after dark.