Woman in bed with her arm over her eyes

Daylight Saving Time and Your Health

By Anne Batson, NP, sleep specialist nurse with Community Physician Network

This Halloween weekend, we will “fall back” by adjusting our clocks as Daylight Saving Time ends and we return to standard time. While many people welcome the additional hour, some struggle for weeks if their bodies are slower to adjust. The time change can disrupt sleep and wreak havoc on mental health. The turning back of the clock causes many people to stay up later after the time change, but they are not sleeping any later in the morning. The result is a mild sleep deprivation state.

Our bodies have many internal clocks. The endocrine system has its own clock, or circadian cycle. The brain has a circadian clock to regulate sleep and wake states. All of the internal clocks need time to reset after a time change. This process can take up to 10-14 days. People who tend to be early birds, or “larks,” have a tougher time adjusting to the “fall back” change than those who have “night owl” tendencies.

For many, falling back also signifies a shift into winter and the changing light patterns that come with it. The longer days and additional darkness can lead to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to the National Institutes of Health, the symptoms of SAD usually begin in autumn. They can include increased appetite, increased daytime sleepiness, decreased energy in the afternoon, loss of interest in work, unhappiness and lethargy.

Struggling with sleep?

While many people are unfazed by time zone adjustments, others are deeply affected. If you are one of those who struggle each year, there are remedies and treatments that might make a big difference in the way you feel and function. The sleep specialists at Community Health Network treat circadian sleep disorders and are always happy to help! Talk with your doctor about sleep problems, or if you need one, please call 800-777-7775.