Daylight Saving Time: health impacts of falling back

Photo: Openfootage / (CC BY 4.0)
Photo: Openfootage / (CC BY 4.0)(NBC15)
Published: Nov. 8, 2019 at 5:18 AM CST
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During daylight saving time, we don't get a choice of changing our clocks. Just like some of us don't get a choice with how the lack of daylight affect us.

Cox Health Physiologist, Dr. Curtis Mattson said some people just may not like this time of year due to the lack of sunlight. However, others may struggle mentally and emotionally because of it.

"People kind of come to work and they spend all day indoors and then by the time they leave work, it's dark," explained Dr. Mattson. "People are getting less exposure to being outside to the sun and different things like that."

Falling back and the lack of sunlight can disrupt more than just your sleep. It can increase the rate of cardiac issues, stroke, and even car accidents. Daylight saving time is also typically when Dr. Mattson starts to see Seasonal Affective Disorder(SAD), which is a sub- type of depression.

"Lack of sunlight influences Serotonin production, Melatonin production and that impacts our mood and our wakefulness," explained Dr. Mattson.

SAD symptoms can include oversleeping, being overly tired, carb craving, and weight gain. Dr. Mattson said, it's important to remember to put yourself and your health first, especially if you're having trouble during seasonal changes. He said the best thing to do is address any health concerns you may be have, and speak to your family, friends, and doctor.

Ways you can take care of yourself while you're adjusting to the time change:

- Experience as much daylight as possible:

Lack of exposure to the sun is catalyst for SAD. Go for walks, sit by a window, or try light therapy.

- Stay active:

Avoid staying coped up inside and get your body moving. It's a way to get light exposure, and increase your body temperatures.

- Limit caffeine intake:

You can still enjoy your morning cup of coffee, however do not go overboard if your feel 'slumped' in the middle of your day.

- Stick to sleep schedule:

It's best to stick to your sleep schedule, and avoid naps when possible. You do not want to manipulate your sleep schedule because it will be difficult to get back on track.

- Seek professional help:

If you feel that you're struggling with depression, a mental health professional would be able to determine if your are suffering from SAD, and give you ways to treat it.