When Does Daylight Saving Time End and Can It Affect Your Health?By Stephanie E - Jenny Craig
People usually have strong feelings about Daylight Saving Time. Some people are not happy about losing an hour of daylight while others are thrilled with the prospect of an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Especially if you’re like most sleep-deprived Americans. The CDC recommends adults get seven or more hours of sleep every night, but over 35 percent of Americans don’t get seven hours a night.1
Sleep is so precious, one survey conducted by the Better Sleep Council found that three in 10 Americans think an extra hour of it is worth $100 or more.2 But on November 4, when the clock rolls back and you gain an hour of shut-eye, your body may feel the impact in other ways. Read on to learn how to work with your body and naturally ease into the time change — so you can feel your best as the days start to grow shorter.
Are you really gaining an hour of sleep?
Starting at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November, you’ll “fall back” an hour — but it might not have the effect you expect. Your sleep cycle works alongside your circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle of mental, physical and behavioral changes you experience throughout the day and night. This rhythm helps set your sleep pattern by signaling the production and release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes drowsiness and relaxation.3
Since melatonin is produced as daylight diminishes, the time change means you may feel more sluggish or groggy in the evening with the sun setting earlier each day.4 And while you may have the best intentions of snagging those extra Z’s, most people have trouble falling asleep or wake up more frequently during the nights following the time change.5
What’s more, when your circadian rhythm is disrupted due to a reduction in daylight hours, it could lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression tied to the change in seasons.6 Weight gain, low energy and appetite changes are common symptoms specific to the winter-onset of this disorder.6 The Mayo Clinic recommends seeing your doctor if you experience symptoms that linger more than a few days.6
Ease into the time change
One of the best ways to avoid any negative health impacts the extra hour may bring is to ease your body into the time change. Here are a few tips to work naturally with your circadian rhythm so you can make the adjustment a little bit easier.
1. Try going to bed an hour later. Falling asleep later the Saturday before the time change may keep you from feeling sluggish. Avoid sleeping in on Sunday to give yourself time to adjust properly.
2. Let the light in. Light, especially daylight, will help fight feelings of tiredness as your body adapts to the extra hour. Before bed, open the blinds a little to let in as much early morning sun as you can.
3. Finish eating a few hours before bedtime. Your metabolism naturally slows in the evenings,7 so when you squeeze in a late-night snack, your body is working to digest the food instead of resting and repairing its cells for the next day. Plus, eating meals later in the evening may cause indigestion — which may make it harder to nod off.
4. Set your cell phone aside. Daylight isn’t the only type of light that affects your circadian rhythm. Your cell phone, e-book and television have something in common: they emit blue light. When you use your devices before bed, you’re exposing yourself to short-wavelength light that may suppress your melatonin levels, ultimately disrupting your sleep.8 Resist the urge to check your devices before bed — you might
sleep better without them!
5. Practice sleep hygiene. Getting better sleep will help keep your circadian rhythm in check, making the transition a little easier. Maintaining sleep hygiene, or healthy sleeping habits, sets you up for a great rest every night with or without an extra hour.
We hope these tips will help you feel your best as you prepare for the time change — and don’t forget to set your clock back November 4!
Discover how following your circadian rhythm can positively impact your health, and weight, with Jenny Craig. Contact Jenny Craig for a free appointment to get started on the road to better health.