An extra hour of sleep can welcome a short period of rest for many people. But it can also disrupt normal sleep patterns, which puts strain on the body.
The change in schedule can throw off the body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm.
It is great to have the extra hour of sleep, but a few days later that can lead to worse sleep.
How does a time change affect the body?
ANSWER: Even an hour time change (forward or backwards) can disrupt your daily or circadian rhythm and result in changes in the way hormones are released. While the spring change seems to be more associated with increased risk for heart attack in the days following, the fall change has its own set of problems.
The fall time change also ushers in months of short days and long nights for people in higher latitudes, which can bring on symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and depression. People struggle with staying awake in the evening and keeping to their original routine during the day and night becomes difficult—fatigue, limited productivity and difficulty concentrating.
The end of daylight saving time also presents hazards for drivers, who will be spending more time on the road when the sun is down. The National Highway Safety Administration has cautioned "motorists and pedestrians to be more alert as the potential for harm increases as darkness falls earlier.”
Why do these changes occur?
ANSWER: In a word—its all about light exposure. Even an hour difference in light exposure can affect your body’s internal clock. Our brains regulate our sleep-wake cycle via exposure to light. For example, At night when it is dark, our brains make melatonin—called the vampire hormone—which helps us sleep. When we have disturbed light exposure, we change brain chemistry and this can result in less sleep.
When we have less sleep, we also can change other hormone levels—we release more cortisol and other stress hormones—Blood pressure and heart rate can increase and we can put more stress on the heart and circulatory system. In fact, many scientists see an increased risk for heart attack and stroke during the days following a time change
What can we do to lessen these effects?
ANSWER: Here are some tips to make it an easier transition this week now that we have had the time change last night
• Limit alcohol
• Maximize natural light exposure during the day
• Try light therapy for energy
Inevitably, an extra hour added to our day means we gain an hour of sleep — if we can actually sleep. Lack of sleep has become a health issue in America, with a third of adults not getting enough shut-eye, according to a study conducted by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Research has shown lack of sleep is linked to a greater risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness and other chronic conditions.
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