Spring forward. Fall back. How can one hour of daylight make a difference in our internal body clocks? Health Briefs TV examines how day light savings time can affect us.
Daylight savings time starts on Sunday, March 13 in the United States. This seemingly odd time change occurs every Spring when we turn our clocks forward one hour, effectively moving an hour of daylight from the morning to evening. People who work past 6 PM will find it is lighter on the commute home. People who leave earlier for work in the morning, will find it darker.
More importantly, the one hour time change can wreak havoc on fragile circadian rhythms for some people. The internal body clock is important for many bodily functions which include metabolic, physiologic, and behavioral changes. The darker mornings make it challenging for some people to be fully awake, which can make it difficult to drive in heavy rush hour traffic. Stress levels rise and with it comes higher blood pressure which can lead to a stroke if not careful.
The disruption of the circadian clock can also affect people who work rotating shift work. Sleep which is fragmented is not healthy overall. Health Briefs TV suggests preparing for the time change by rising earlier to be more fully awake when driving to work, school or other activities. If shift workers need to rest fully before an evening schedule, try using black out blinds to block the sun. WebMD notes that it takes about one full day to adjust to the time change. The first work day after the time change may be difficult for some people. Take it easy and get to work safely, alert and on time.