Soon it will be time to set clocks back an hour – with the official end of daylight savings time. Setting clocks back in the fall means its light when you wake up in the morning but dark when you come home in the evening. Have you ever stopped to consider the effects this time change has on your body? According to experts at the Policy Studies Institute, people have less opportunity to get outdoors and be active when the days are shorter.
Does Setting Clocks Back an Hour in the Fall Hurt Your Health?
Setting clocks back an hour means an hour less sunlight for most people. Studies show that people feel more upbeat, have more energy, and are less likely to catch colds and other illnesses when the days are longer – but only after they adjust to the initial time change.
People also have more opportunity to spend time outdoors when there are more daylight hours. Sunlight exposure has the positive benefit of raising vitamin D levels, which may reduce the risk of some diseases. The majority of Americans are deficient in vitamin D, and the number rises when the days are shorter and people spend more time indoors.
And then there’s the issue of weight gain. Most people are more sedentary and eat more when the days are shorter.
Daylight Savings Time Has Its Drawbacks Too
Daylight savings time means its light outside longer, but some people have problems adjusting to a new sleep pattern and struggle to get up when in the morning when they look out the window into darkness. According to some studies waking up in the dark and lack of sunlight first thing in the morning contributes more to seasonal depression than levels of sunlight later in the day.
Many people have a hard time adjusting to daylight savings time and sleep less for the first few weeks after the changeover, which can have negative effects on school and job performance. One study even showed that heart-attack rates are higher for the first few weeks after the start of daylight savings time.
Setting Clocks Back: How to Make the Transition Easier
There are advantages and disadvantages to setting clocks back in the fall – but however you look at it, change is difficult. How can you make this time change easier?
If you have a flexible schedule, go to work earlier so you get off from work while it’s still light outside. Plan to do your workout as soon as you wake up in the morning. Chances are you’ll feel less like exercising if it’s dark outside when you get home.
Take a walk outdoors during your lunch hour to get some vitamin D – and check a vitamin D level to make sure you’re not deficient. If you’re light-deprived and prone to depression, get a light therapy box to simulate the effects of sunlight.
Setting clocks back in the fall has its advantages. Most people get more sleep than they do under daylight savings time, and waking up to sunlight shining in the window is a good way to start the day.
Eurekalert.org. ‘Not putting the clocks back this weekend will improve health, says expert.
MSN Health annd Fitness. “The Dark Side of Daylight-Saving Time”