Daylight Saving Time 2022: How does 'falling back' affect our health?
It's that time year again! This Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2 a.m. it's time to "fall back" and gain an extra hour of sleep.
Across Canada, clocks will turn back one hour putting an end to Daylight Saving Time for another year — which will resume in 2023 on Sunday, March 12.
And although this time change only occurs twice a year, it can cause serious disruptions to our body clocks and have negative effects on our long-term health.
Read on to learn more about how DST affects sleep, and what you can do to help prevent health risks at this time.
What are the impacts of losing sleep due to Daylight Saving Time?
When the clocks fall back, many people see it as an opportunity to change their routine, thinking they'll bask in the glory of the extra hour of sleep.
Paradoxically, this mindset can actually cause people to lose sleep, as they often stay up later than usual.
As such, the lack of sleep causes a disruption in our circadian rhythm, also referred to as our internal body clock.
Circadian rhythms help determine and regulate sleeping and eating patterns for both people and animals.
Scroll through some of the top impacts of Daylight Saving Time on sleep below.
Drowsiness and increased likelihood of injury
The time change messes with our circadian rhythm, causing us to feel drowsy, moody and can even lead some to experience an increased appetite.
Disrupted circadian rhythm can impact our motor functions, response times overall alertness which increases our likelihood of injury.
Affects on hormonal balance and mental health
Any changes made to our circadian rhythm, no matter how small, can also impact our hormonal balance.
As a result, this can increase the risk for other serious health problems, such as anxiety, depression, insomnia and a weakened immune system.
Health effects of "falling back"
When we turn the clocks back, this often leads to changes in appetite, so you may be hungry earlier than usual.
This can cause hunger pangs and irritability if you're altering the time when your body is used to being fed.
Additionally, changes in mood is another significant health effect of the fall time change.
At this time of year, people usually spend more time indoors and leave work or school after the sun has started to set — impacting the amount of natural light we interact with.
As such, this leads to lower levels of vitamin D due to less sun exposure — a deficiency that has been linked to depression.
What can you do to avoid health risks of Daylight Saving Time?
In order to make the most of the November time change, experts suggest going to sleep at your usual bedtime on Saturday night before the fall back occurs.
It's prudent to not expose yourself to artificial light sources, such as televisions and phones, before bed as this can make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep.
To help regulate your body's circadian rhythm, you can also expose yourself to natural sunlight early on in the day.
Additionally, avoid napping in the days following the change to allow your body to adjust to the change, and avoid caffeine, nicotine and and alcohol before bed. Choose healthy snacks between meals when you're hungry, do some light exercise, and ensure proper hydration.
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