Daylight Saving Health Tips — Spring Forward into Better Health

Madie Pipenhagen, Lead Lifestyle Consultant

Daylight saving time (DST) takes place on March 13th this year. It is officially that time of year where we set our clocks ahead an hour and spring forward! Adjusting our clocks by one hour may not seem that significant, but experts have shown that there can be health effects of daylight saving time.

How Does Daylight Saving Affect Our Health?

The biggest shift from moving our clocks ahead is seen in our quality of sleep. Sleep is important. It helps us regulate all our bodily functions. Our sleep-wake cycle that regulates our bodies is known as our circadian rhythm. Now you’re probably wondering, “Can daylight saving affect your sleep?” The answer is yes.

DST affects the amount of light we are exposed to which can throw off our circadian rhythm, your body’s internal clock. This change can affect our sleep health and cause us to feel more tired. According to the CDC, one third of Americans are already not getting enough sleep.1 Sleep deprivation combined with a disruption to our circadian rhythm can affect our physical, mental, and cognitive health.

When it comes to weight loss, studies have shown that poor sleep correlates with our body’s ability to gain and lose weight and the regulation of hunger hormones, leptin and gherlin.2 When we do not get enough sleep, our leptin levels increase which makes us feel hungrier. Our ghrelin levels, which control how satisfied we feel after a meal, decrease. Your body will also crave fatty and sugary foods to replenish the energy that it is not getting from sleep. Proper sleep is important to encourage healthy, safe weight loss.

Daylight Saving Health Tips

So, you may now find yourself asking, “What steps can I take to minimize the effects of daylight saving time on my health?”

Many of the same sleep habits that are important to overall health can better prepare yourself for daylight savings by incorporating the following health tips:

  • Avoid caffeine within 6 hours of bedtime
  • A consistent sleep routine, practicing going to bed and waking up at similar times each day
  • Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night for adults 18-65+ years old.3
  • Limit blue light exposure (lights from screens) up to two hours before bedtime
  • Avoid alcohol before bedtime
  • Slowly changing your bedtime. Start off gradually by waking up 15-20 minutes earlier three days leading up to DST. This can help with protecting your circadian rhythm and promoting a smooth transition.

References:

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “1 in 3 Adults Don’t Get Enough Sleep”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 16 Feb. 2016, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html
  2. Harvard School of Public Health. “Sleep”. The Nutrition Source, 14 Jan. 2022, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sleep/
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “CDC – How Much Sleep Do I Need? – Sleep and Sleep Disorders.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Mar. 2017, https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html.