Now that the weather’s cooling off, darker afternoons are just around the corner thanks to the end of daylight saving time. Most of us think about this time change as an hour of sleep gained in the fall and an hour lost in the spring, but what do we really know about it?
Why we have daylight savings time
According to The Huffington post, George Vernon Hudson, a specialist in insect biology, came up with the idea as a way to delay dusk in the summertime, which was interfering with his outdoor ventures — evening bug collecting, to be exact. Well, here we are, more than a century after Hudson first proposed daylight saving time in 1895, still changing our clocks twice a year.
And daylight saving time doesn’t just mess with the clocks on your wall, either. It can take a surprising toll on our body’s internal clocks. Here are four ways daylight saving time affects your health.
1. Cluster headaches
For some people, changing the clocks causes cluster headaches, says Everyday Health. Dr. Stewart Tepper, MD, headache pain specialist at Cleveland Clinic, told the publication the attacks occur every day for six to eight weeks before finally going away. Tepper also said switching time, as we do for daylight saving time, can trigger a cycle. Typically, these debilitating headaches start a few days after the time change and are likely caused by circadian rhythms in the brain.
2. Seasonal depression
How many times have you left for work before the light of day only to return back home long after the sun’s already gone down? Well, this is often a reality for many people during the winter. For people with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), this can be problematic.
If you’re prone to SAD, the impending time change could propel you into your annual state of depression. Occurring during the winter months, SAD may be attributed to the lack of sunlight, and is most common among women and people between the ages of 15 and 55. If this sounds familiar, talk to your doctor now, so you can figure out a treatment plan before we make the time change.
3. It may mess with your heart
Inadequate sleep can result in extra stress on your body, such as raising your blood pressure. So, with an extra hour coming our way, it stands to reason this shift in time just may benefit your heart health. It might sound far-fetched, but research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found heart attacks actually dropped the Monday following the end of daylight saving time and spiked during the few days following the time change in the spring.
It’s also worth noting other things might come into play. The research mentioned Monday is the day of the week most associated with the highest risk for heart attack due in large part to the mental stress of a new workweek. Additionally, people tend to be more sleep deprived during the week.
4. Your might start to feel more normal when it ends
If you’re someone who feels your body never really synced up back in the spring in the first place, despite the social time change, you could be onto something. There’s actually research to back it up. Lead researcher Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich told ABC News, just because you change the clocks, doesn’t mean your internal clock changes so easily. “During the winter, there is a beautiful tracking of dawn in human sleep behavior, which is completely and immediately interrupted when daylight saving time is introduced in March,” he said.
The good news is it seems we’re able to get back on track when daylight saving time ends. So, rejoice! The end of daylight saving time is near.