Hopefully, everyone pushed their clock back an hour at 2 AM on Sunday Morning! November 6th ended the 8-month stretch of Daylight Saving Time, which started on March 13th of this year and shifted an hour of daylight to our evenings. What happens to our sleep now that the days have fallen back to standard time? There are both pros and cons when pushing the clocks back an hour.
Whether you are falling back or springing forward, an abrupt shift in clock time means that you will have to let your internal clock adjust. Your own sense of time will not naturally coincide with the extra hour we gained this weekend. It may take up to a week for our brains and bodies to become used to the hour shift, which can leave you feeling tired during the day and can lead to disturbances in your sleep at night.
Although you may feel a little groggy at first, gaining the hour of sleep we lost in March has many benefits for us as well. The shift of daylight to the morning is excellent for our biological clocks. Using natural light to wake up is one of the best ways to start your day. When you wake up, you can go outside and get that bright light to start stimulating your mood and energy for the rest of the day. Early morning daylight will be very beneficial for schoolchildren and professionals who have to rise early.
Three years ago, a study done by the New England Journal of Medicine found that the number of heart attacks fell on the Monday after gaining an hour of sleep, (that would be today!) Unfortunately though, they also found that after we lose an hour of sleep in March, heart attacks spiked in the following days. They found that there is a link between sleep deprivation and the risk of heart attacks. Sleep deprivation takes a toll on the body’s hormones and increases inflammatory chemicals that lead to heart disease. Therefore, the extra hour of sleep we received yesterday is very healthy for our hearts.
A 1996 Canadian studyalso shed light onto how Daylight Savings affects the population. After receiving an extra hour of sleep in the fall, the number of car accidents decreased. But when we lose an hour of sleep in the spring, the number of traffic accidents tends to rise. When we gain an extra hour of sleep, we are less likely to have “micro sleeps,” or lapses in our attention span, which can cause such accidents.
Interestingly enough, a US Study found that the number of road accidents increase on both the Sunday following the spring Daylight Savings and the Monday following the fall Daylight Savings. This study claims that gaining an hour could cause late night/early morning driving, sleepiness behind the wheel, and alcohol consumption.
Whichever way you look at it, the end of Daylight Saving Time is a great way to kick off your holiday season! Gaining an hour and catching up on those much-needed Z’s is exactly what you need before this time of year. We hope everyone is doing well with the time shift and rested up this weekend. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below!