Although everyone seems to jump for joy at the thought of getting an extra hour of sleep when the time changes, there’s a real question we want to address. Does that extra hour of sleep you got over the weekend give you a health boost or does it hurt it?
There has been plenty of research done to suggest that the Spring forward time change is quite difficult on our body’s circadian rhythm, as well as lifestyle. Taking it a step further, there is shown to be an increase in cyber surfing when we ought to be working, as well as an increase in suicides among men. An instructor of Psychiatry at University of Pennsylvania, Michael Grandner, says that the Fall time change is the more benign time change between the two. Interestingly, Grandner goes on to say that most people’s internal body clocks are closer to 24.5 hours a day rather than 24 hours a day. This means that it is a lot easier on the body to add time to the day, rather than take it away.
Increase in Getting Sick
Nevertheless, our body’s internal rhythm is still thrown off. With the time change, we are more prone to getting sick this Fall. Dr. Alfred Lewy, director of the Sleep and Mood Disorders Laboratory at Oregon Health & Science University, further confirms that the difficulty our body has to the time change is because we are trying to shift our body to sleep later, as the sun and light are invading us earlier. The sunlight and dark cycle is working opposite to what we need.
Increase in Car Accidents
Furthermore, there is even a greater risk in car accidents with the Fall time change. A&M University did a study that showed that there were as many as 14% more car accidents during the Fall time change because people are driving, groggily, behind the wheel. We are also driving in the evening, for more hours in the dark than during the Spring and Summer. This is an added risk to car accidents as well.
It’s always rough when you are leaving work and it’s completely dark outside. Yet, you still have a workout class and then dinner? How could there possibly be time for all that? It didn’t seem so weird to have that kind of a schedule during the Spring and Summer months, when it stayed light til 8 or 9pm. But somehow, during the Winter, when it seems to get dark as early as 4:45 or 5pm, it makes you feel like you just want to go home, thrown on the sweats, and get in bed. The darker Winter months are definitely hard, for those more vulnerable to the Winter blues. But, one of the best ways to stave off that sad mood is to expose yourself to the bright sunlight, first thing in the morning. At least this is one basic way to boost yours spirits.
So if you’re feeling a little “off” this upcoming week, keep in mind that your body is working hard to keep everything in check! Make sure to get plenty of sleep and stay alert on the road!