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“Springing Forward” Brings Health Concerns

Virginia Eaton Mar 12 SNOL child-818434Written by Virginia Eaton —

I was reading a news article about the return of daylight savings time (DST) this Sunday, Mar. 13, and laughed until I had to cross my legs!

A medical doctor was quoted as saying that when there is a time change, whether from changing our clocks or traveling, the rule of thumb is that for every hour of change, it should take one day to adjust. Anyone who has either raised or taught children knows that this ludicrous!

To get school age children on the new time schedule takes at least a week and the impact of cranky children who don’t want to get out of bed in the morning means parents (and probably teachers, too) need at least that long to regain their equilibrium.

Even though my children have long since flown the nest, I’m still not a fan of changing the clocks twice a year and evidence of the cost to life and limb, both literally and emotionally, is significant.

Virginia Eaton Mar 12 SNOL children-playing-334531CNN reports that the increase in strokes goes up significantly in the two days after DST. In fact, those who are over 65 years of age are 20% more likely to suffer a stroke within this two-day window. Hospitals also see a rise in heart attacks in the days following DST: read more about that here.

Other ways that springing forward might impact your life:

  • If you have to drive to Fresno on Monday morning, be extra careful — there tends to be a rise in traffic accidents following DST.
  • If you suffer from chronic pain, you may see a spike in your pain after the time change.
  • Headaches and migraines are more likely to occur this coming week, as your body’s hormones make the adjustment to less morning light.
  • Workplace productivity declines for a time, presumably because of the lack of sleep.
  • If you or someone you love suffers from a mental illness, the time change can make symptoms worse or even reappear after seeming to be under control

There’s a lot of debate about whether changing the clocks twice a year offers any benefit at all.

Virginia Eaton Mar 12 SNOL fire-22332My personal opinion is that the physical and psychological effects of trying to reprogram our internal clocks undo any possible benefit of DST.

We humans often believe that we can ignore the interconnection that we have with nature and the importance of being in sync with the seasons.

The clock may say it’s 6am, but our bodies know that it is really 5am. While we may not be able trick our circadian rhythm, there are some things that you can do to smooth this transition.

The best ways to regain your footing after the change is a good nighttime routine. Stick with your normal bedtime, and eat dinner at least three to four hours before crawling between the sheets.

snol game-289470End screen time — including television, computer, phones, etcetera — at least an hour before lights out, and avoid drinking alcohol until you’ve re-established your sleep schedule.

Consider taking a warm bath with some lavender and Epsom salts. As you leave the bath, your body temperature, which rose a bit in the warm water, will begin to drop: a signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.

Exercise is the great equalizer. The positive hormone boost from moderate to vigorous exercise can help minimize much of the impacts of DST.

Unfortunately, there is often a decrease in morning exercisers due to the time change, but if you can drag yourself out of bed, in the long run, you’ll be glad you did!

Virginia Eaton Mar 12 SNOL watches-943399Knowing that this next week you will encounter tired, cranky children and grownups — be patient. Don’t rush if you’re driving and be kind to those who may not be as mentally alert as usual. The only good thing about springing forward is knowing that winter is coming to a close and the warm light of summer is in sight!

Read more of Virginia Eaton’s blog posts here.

Virginia Eaton is the owner of Oakhurst wellness center Class: The Body Pastiche



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