Just when you thought you were used to early sunsets and bright mornings … it’s time to turn your clock forward! This year, daylight saving time begins March 14, and just like the end of daylight saving time, “springing forward” can have surprising effects on your health. Here’s what happens when you “lose” an ever-important hour of sleep — and what you can do to help your body adjust.
1. You might feel a little jet-lagged.
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It might not seem like much, but disrupting your sensitive circadian rhythms – the daily changes that impact your behavioral, physical and mental well-being1 – by as little as an hour may cause your body to react. Many of your circadian rhythms’ depend on regular periods of light and darkness.1 Daylight is key to cueing your circadian rhythms, so changes to the light and dark periods can “speed up, slow down, or reset biological clocks as well as circadian rhythms,” explains the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.1
So, while you gain an hour of light later in the day, turning your clocks forward may cause you to wake up in darkness. If you’re used to starting the day with sunlight, the beginning of daylight saving time can feel disorienting.
What you can do: Having more light later into the evenings might make you want to stay up later, making it more difficult for you to get some shut-eye, but try sticking to your regular bedtime to keep your circadian rhythm on track.
Try these tips before the time change:2
- Try tucking in 15-20 minutes early for a few nights leading up to the time change.
- Or, try getting to bed earlier on the Saturday night before the time changes to make up for the hour you’ll lose.
After daylight saving time begins:
- On Sunday, try sleeping in for an additional half hour and getting a little sunshine in the early morning to help your body adjust.2
2. Heart issues can increase.
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The number of heart attacks and ischemic strokes spike after daylight saving time begins, and may be more likely to happen if you’re already at risk.3 A heart attack is caused by a blocked or narrowed coronary artery that stops blood flow to the heart; it can also be caused by a buildup of cholesterol or a blood clot.3 In a study of hospital patients across the state of Michigan, researchers noted the number of heart attacks increased by 24% the Monday following the time change.4 While more studies will need to be done, the researchers suggested this may be due to the change in patients’ sleep-wake cycles (the circadian rhythm that controls when you’re asleep or awake5) and the added stress of starting a new work week.4
An ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain.6 A recent study showed that the overall rate of ischemic stroke was 8% higher during the first two days of daylight saving time.6 However, after two days, there was no difference in the overall rate of strokes.
What you can do: Cardiovascular disease often leads to a heart attack or stroke, but there are ways to manage your risk. The American Heart Association recommends making these healthy lifestyle changes:7
- Opt for nutritious foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins at most meals
- Work toward or maintain a healthy weight
- Monitor blood cholesterol
- Lower high blood pressure
- Make time for physical activity (read these helpful tips for beginners!)
- Manage diabetes
- Reduce your stress levels
If you are overweight or obese, a 5% to 10% weight loss may support heart health, lower blood pressure and increase “good” HDL cholesterol,8 which helps to combat the artery-clogging effects of “bad” LDL cholesterol.9
3. Your appetite — and your weight loss efforts may be impacted.
Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash
Studies suggest Americans tend to sleep 40 minutes less after the transition into daylight saving time, compared to other days of the year.10 If you continually get less than seven hours of sleep each night, one study showed the lack of rest could impact your appetite-regulating hormones, leptin and ghrelin — which may affect your weight loss efforts.11 While leptin helps to regulate energy and suppress hunger, ghrelin promotes appetite.12 In the study, participants who slept less than seven hours per night had lower levels of leptin and higher levels of ghrelin; and on average, they were heavier than other participants. The researchers think the combination of a lack of sleep and differing levels of leptin and ghrelin could contribute to obesity.11
What you can do: Practice good sleep hygiene to get better rest – starting tonight. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends getting at least seven hours of shut-eye before and after the transition and cautions that it could take up to seven days to adjust to daylight saving time.13
Moving your clocks ahead by just an hour can have a powerful effect on your body’s complex circadian rhythms, and ultimately, your health. It’s not just about losing an hour of sleep: springing forward can alter your body’s delicate balance and may result in disorientation and restlessness, and may even impact your appetite if you’re skimping on rest. Doing your best to stay in sync with your circadian rhythms can help keep you on track, whether you’re adjusting to daylight saving time or working to reach a healthy weight.
To learn more about how following your circadian rhythm may benefit your health and weight loss goals, book your free appointment with Jenny Craig today!
Stephanie Eng-Aponte is a copywriter for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, CA. They’ve focused on writing within the health and wellness space for the last several years, but have dabbled in the tech and environmental industries. Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies. Stephanie employs a “eat first, write later” approach to food blogging and enjoys the occasional Oxford comma. Outside of writing, you can find them photographing a muttley crew of rescue pups, brewing kombucha, or exploring San Diego.
Favorite healthy snack: green apple slices with sunflower butter
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