15 Ways Daylight Saving Time Affects Our Health

It's just an hour but the body feels the difference in a lot of ways

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The switch to daylight saving time (DST) is this Sunday, March 13, at 2 a.m., at which time you will have to move your clocks forward an hour. While having more daylight comes as great news, you will literally lose sleep over it.

An hour less sleep may not seem like a big deal, but science says otherwise. While you may feel happier absorbing more sunshine, DST can unexpectedly and severely upset your body, even for just a few days.

A person’s natural 24-hour clock can adjust slowly, so sudden changes in wakeup times can do some damage. Some individuals will have no problem adapting to a new sleep cycle, but others, especially those with pre-existing conditions such as chronic pain, may find it more difficult.[slideshow:82555]

The brain’s “central clock,” called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN, regulates our natural 24-hour cycle that controls body heat, hormone production and sleep patterns. SCN needs “hints” such as daylight to keep working properly. So, when these hints are altered, the rhythm changes too, causing a series of issues.

Go to bed early on Saturday night to make up for the 60 minutes of lost Zzz’s if you want to prevent a number of negative effects ranging from more stress to higher risk for heart attack and stroke. If you need help, bring the temperature in your bedroom down to 55-65 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold makes people sleepy.

There is no hard evidence that some of the health effects on the following list are caused by DST but they certainly coincide with the time change.

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