If you’re never excited about the shift to Daylight Savings Time, you’re probably not alone. We know the struggle: you barely get any sleep at all, and now you lose another hour and have to adjust your sleeping patterns. Total bummer.
But did you know that the action to “spring forward” doesn’t just advance our clocks by an hour, it can also increase health risks?
A study conducted by researchers in Finland found that the risk for stroke was 8% higher on the Monday and Tuesday after springing forward. Ischemic stroke accounts for nearly 90% of cases for stroke, and is caused by a clot which blocks the flow of blood to the brain.
There are no records, however, showing an increased number in deaths caused by stroke a week after adjusting the clock.
Cancer patients are also 25% more likely to have a stroke and those over 65% had a 20% likelihood of experiencing the same thing.
Researchers at the University of Alabama Birmingham also found that the risk for heart attacks increased by 10% on Monday and Tuesday after DST was put in place.
This doesn’t mean Daylight Savings Time is the direct culprit, but rather, the effect it has on our sleep cycles and circadian rhythm can put us off our normal routines. Waking up 40 minutes earlier can have negative implications, especially for people on rotating shift schedules and those who already don’t get enough sleep to begin with.
It can also throw a wrench in our mood and our productivity, especially since the we won’t have enough sleep and have to wake up earlier than usual the next day. Sleep deprivation affects our amygdala, the part of the brain that regulates our emotions. People tend to be more susceptible to mood swings and violent reactions compared to those who’ve had a good night’s sleep.
At work, being sleepy can prevent you from accomplishing all the tasks you set out to do. People tend to be groggier, slower in processing information, and have difficulty concentrating on tasks at hand.
Because sleep deprivation can mess with our hormones, you may experience sudden cravings and if you keep reaching for comfort foods, you might find yourself gaining more weight.
When we lack sleep, the body produces more ghrelin, which is what signals our brain that we’re hungry. It also suppresses leptin, a hormone that tells the body when we’re full after eating. So watch out!
Coincidentally, Sleep Awareness Week also runs from 11 March to the 17th. If you’re having trouble adjusting to the clock moving forward by an hour, here are some tips that might help you fall asleep faster and fix your body clock.
- Turn off the lights – this is probably one of the most commonly given advice out there, but we’re here to repeat it anyway. Why? Because it works. Bright light, especially those that emit blue light, prevents the brain from releasing chemicals that tells the body it’s time for sleep. An example of this is melatonin. If you want to regulate your sleep schedule to also make the transition to daylight savings time easier, expose yourself to sunlight and bright lights as soon as you wake up to help perk you up.
- Put the phone down – in relation to staying away from any source of light that stimulates you rather than relaxes you, avoid browsing on your phone within two hours before bedtime.
- Or make use of an app, then put your phone down. Apps like Shhh… Sleep in Seconds plays binaural beats. Basically, it plays white noise that syncs with your brain waves and helps you fall asleep that much faster.
- Blank black. Just say it over and over. Watch what happens. Thank us tomorrow morning.
- Find your happy place, or your happy person. This trick has been going around for quite a while now, but several have attested to it. Get comfy in bed and think about one thing you’re good at. Imagine doing it step by step, and you just might fall asleep. On the other hand, there’s also research that supports the quality of your sleep can also depend on how awesome your partner is. Basically, the couple that sleeps well together, stays together.
- Ditch the afternoon cup of coffee. Don’t reach for caffeine when it’s past noon. It takes a couple of hours for it to completely pass through your system, and you definitely don’t wanna have a cup three or four hours before bedtime.