Why do we still do it?
I’m talking about Sunday’s time change. Almost everyone I talk to dreads saying goodbye to daylight saving and turning our clocks back this weekend for the return of standard time. We might regain an hour, but it’s depressing leaving work in the dark at 5 p.m.
It’s more than just an inconvenience; the “fall back” can be a real health hazard. Some 40 million of us already have some type of chronic sleep disorder and 40 percent of us admit we’ve recently fallen asleep while driving. Sleep experts say that setting the clock back an hour is contrary to how our body clocks work, leading to some interesting health effects –both good and bad – that you may not have known about.
- Your risk of being in a car accident may increase
A Texas A&M University study found there was a seven percent increase in car crashes the week after daylight saving time comes to an end, with morning crashes jumping 14 percent. Researchers think the hour difference affects us much like jet lag when we disrupt our normal sleep pattern
- Your odds of a heart attack may drop
In a 2014 study, researchers found a 21 percent decrease in heart attacks on the Tuesday following the fall time change. That compares to the 24 percent increase just after the switch to daylight saving.
- Your mood may improve
As the weather gets colder and daylight diminishes, we tend to be more depressed. But in the weeks following the fall time change, your wake time may actually sync with the sunrise, giving you a temporary mood a boost. Exposing yourself to morning light is one of the most powerful things you can do to stave off winter blues.
- The quality of your sleep may take a hit
Many of us have trouble after we set the clocks back; we actually stay up later because we aren’t tired when it’s bedtime and our brain is still programmed to get us up an hour earlier than the clock says. One study suggests that instead of capitalizing on the supposed extra hour of sleep, you may actually lose sleep the week after the fall time change. A Finnish study found that the quality of sleep after the fall transition actually decreases for many of us.
Now you probably already know if you are sleep deprived, but just in case, you can take the National Sleep Foundation’s “sleepiness test” to show how you stack up against other Americans.
And, if you find turning the clocks back leaves you out of sorts, overtired and more cranky than usual, here are some recommendations from the Sleep Foundation:
- Avoid napping during the day
- Limit stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening
- Use relaxing exercise like yoga or meditation before bedtime
- Stay away from heavy, late meals
- Don’t experiment with spicy dishes for dinner
- Expose yourself to as much natural light as possible
- Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine
- Keep the bedroom for sleep – eliminate the TV
- Make your bed and sleeping area as comfortable as possible
Oh, here are a couple last things:
- Don’t forget to set your clocks back Saturday night so you won’t show up an hour early for church or other morning activities.
- Don’t forget to test and change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Don’t lose sleep worrying about your auto and home insurance; contact a California Casualty advisor today for a free, no hassle policy review and comparison at 1.800.800.9410 or visit www.calcas.com. You’ll sleep better knowing you have the best coverage with exclusive professional discounts.
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