Back in November, we looked at the effects the change back to Standard Time could have on the body—and how it often increases the number of car or truck wrecks. Now we’re back into Daylight Saving Time, and many experts agree that DST can have even more negative effects on the population—including crash statistics.
What exactly is Daylight Saving Time?
DST is the time between March and November when most of the states in the U.S. and 40% of countries around the world move their clocks forward (or “spring forward”) one hour. The purpose of DST is to make better use of sunlight. The sun rises earlier and sets later in the summer than in the winter. By moving clocks forward for an hour, people can wake up as the sun is coming up and have more daylight hours after work to spend outdoors.
Sounds great. I mean, more sunlight is good, right? Not necessarily.
First, the biannual time change disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, which includes its sleep-wake cycle. Your circadian rhythm is set by the timing and amount of bright light exposure you get during the day. With Daylight Saving Time, your body is actually exposed to less morning light and more evening light, which can make you feel tired in the morning and awake in the evening. This can affect when you fall asleep at night and how wakeful you are during the day.
So, the issue with Daylight Saving Time isn’t just that you lose an hour of sleep when time “springs forward.” The time change can actually wreak havoc on the body for days and even months. That doesn’t just mean sleepy drivers trying to navigate the roads for those months. DST contributes to other health issues as well.
According to Dr. Phyllis C. Zee, Chief of Sleep Medicine in the Department of Neurology at Northwestern Medicine, the transition to DST can not only create sleep issues, fatigue, and changes in blood pressure that can feel like prolonged jet lag, it is also linked to depression, slowed metabolism, weight gain, and cluster headaches. DST can affect everything from cognitive and mental health issues to digestive problems, immune disorders, and heart disease. It has also been shown that there are more fatal car wrecks in the weeks and months after DST goes into effect.
There has been legislation in the works to do away with the biannual time change. Unfortunately, this legislation is to permanently adopt Daylight Saving Time, even though most experts agree that Standard Time is the healthier choice. However, it is unlikely that any bills will be passed to make either Daylight Saving Time or Standard Time permanent in the near future. So, what can you do to manage the negative effects of the time change during the weeks after they come into effect?
- Have a sleep routine. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
- Spend as much time outside in the morning sun as you can.
- Eliminate things that might disturb your sleep including excess amounts of caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals.
- Avoid blue light exposure from phones laptops, and TV one to two hours before bedtime.
- Exercise in the morning.
- Take naps as needed.
Remember, driving when you’re drowsy can make it harder for you to pay attention to the road and properly assess potential hazards, impact how well you can make fast decisions, and increase your reaction time. When in doubt, DON’T DRIVE.
If you do get into a car or truck wreck, Accident & Injury Chiropractic is here to help now with 13 clinics throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex!