Daylight saving time (DST) has a significant impact on mental and physical health, affecting sleep, mood, alertness, and appetite. The body's circadian rhythm, which is influenced by light, can be disrupted by seasonal changes, leading to sleep disturbances and mood changes.
According to experts, adjusting to a new sleep schedule can be challenging, especially in the first week following the end of DST. To ease this transition, it is recommended to maintain a consistent sleep schedule and gradually adjust sleep and wake times by 5 to 10 minutes each day until the body synchronizes with the new time.
On November 5, most Americans will turn their clocks back one hour as DST ends. This change has raised concerns about how gaining an extra hour of sleep will impact health.
The body's internal clock, known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, is heavily influenced by light. Light input from the retina regulates various body systems, including hormone release, eating patterns, and sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, genetic factors play a role in determining if individuals are "night owls" or "larks."
Living in a 24-hour rhythm with alternating light and dark cycles, humans rely on a pacemaker in the brain to regulate circadian rhythms. Light stimulates wakefulness, while darkness promotes sleep and the release of melatonin.
The change in seasons can affect mental and physical health. Shorter, darker, and colder days can lead to increased sadness and worsened depression. Physically, this can result in daytime sleepiness and fatigue, common symptoms of sleep disorders. Sunlight also stimulates vitamin D production, which is important for immunity.
When the clocks turn back, some people feel better, while others feel worse. Factors such as individual sleep needs, circadian predilection, and sleep health can influence how individuals react to time changes. However, gaining an hour of sleep during the fall change is generally helpful for most people.
It is important to note that circadian misalignment can cause changes in sleep, cognition, mood, metabolism, immune health, cardiac function, and muscle strength.
To mitigate the negative effects of DST, it is recommended to expose oneself to natural light during the workday, maintain a consistent sleep schedule, and gradually adjust sleep and wake times leading up to the time change.
In conclusion, the end of daylight saving time can disrupt sleep and mood, as the body adjusts to the new time. It is vital to prioritize overall sleep health and gradually adapt to the time change to minimize the impact on mental and physical well-being.