daylight savings time effects on health2Daylight savings time comes every year. Have you ever stopped to wonder what effects it may have on your health or weight?

Not surprisingly, daylight savings adjustments can actually have a significant impact on your health sleep habits and lifestyle.

The reason for the effects is due to the alteration of the circadian rhythm of your body, your internal clock that regulates your natural sleep-wake cycles as well as your hunger and hormone production schedules.

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These alterations to your internal clock can affect sleep, appetite, energy levels, cardiovascular and mental health. Continue reading to review seven ways daylight savings time can affect your health and find out how to combat these effects.

1) You find yourself overeating 

Changes or disruptions in sleep cycles can have a negative impact on hormone balance. One hormone in particular, ghrelin, which is one of the hormones that regulates hunger, increases and causes you to overeat.

You find that not only are you eating more, you are reaching for more fat and sugar laden foods, which causes weight gain.

Solution: While your body adjusts in the days following daylight savings time, reach for healthy foods that help control appetite such as nuts, apples or oatmeal. All three of these foods contain fiber which can keep you feeling fuller longer and help you to avoid reaching for other not so healthy foods.

2) Increased risk for a heart attack

Studies show that the number of heart attacks rises following daylight savings time in the spring, whereas a decrease in heart attacks has been seen following the changing of the clocks in the fall.

The reason for this is that the loss of even just one hour of sleep can put more stress on your body, while allowing for less time to recover.

Solution: Exercising for 30 minutes on most days of the week has shown to be protective against heart disease. Eating a heart healthy diet can also help prevent negative effects on the cardiovascular system.

A heart healthy diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limiting saturated and trans fat intake is also important.

A heart healthy diet will also help maintain a healthy weight, which will also lower your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

3) Morning grogginess will be your new enemy 

Adjustments in your circadian rhythm will cause fatigue and low energy levels, especially in the mornings. Grogginess will cause a decrease in your ability to focus throughout the day.

In fact studies have found evidence that suggests people tend to be less productive in the days following daylight savings time. Additionally, research suggests there to be an increase in car accidents in the first few days.

Solution: Combat this morning grogginess by resisting the urge to consume a late night meal and caffeine, which can leave you with a food hangover in the morning.

Energizing meals such as a protein packed breakfast and making sure to stay hydrated throughout the day can help keep you more alert.

4) You become sleep deprived 

 

You probably try to adjust your schedule to the clock on the wall in response to daylight savings time. Doing this means that you are constantly depriving your body of the sleep and rest that it needs. When you are sleep deprived, you become less patient, less productive, and as mentioned, may overeat.

Solution: Focus on adjusting to your internal clock, rather than the clock on the wall. If your body is telling you it is tired at 10pm instead of your normal 11pm bedtime, then you should listen and go to bed at 10pm.

Being mindful to the internal cues of your body will help you recover from daylight savings time faster as well as help you combat any negative health effects. Going to sleep earlier and resisting the urge to hit the snooze button will surely help.

5) You are sadder in the morning, but happier in the afternoon

Moodiness and depression can affect you both in the fall and the spring. In the fall, changing the clock means shorter days and less daylight. Research has linked a decrease in daylight to increased numbers of depressed people.

This can also happen in the first few days following daylight savings time in the spring because your daily schedule tends to start in the mornings when it is still dark out. Who likes to wake up and leave for work in the dark?

Solution: Turn on bright lights in your home when you wake up in the morning to start boosting your serotonin levels which will start to elevate your mood. And spend as much time in the sunlight hours after work as possible.

Take a walk in the park, go for a run or a bike ride instead of heading home and collapsing on the couch in front of the television. You’ll feel instantly better.

Daylight savings time happens every year. There’s no way around it. The best way to deal with it is to stop and assess how the change affects your body personally, and then start implementing the strategies provided here. You will likely feel better in two to three days.

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