How Daylight Saving Time impacts your health

When we set the time one hour forward, we mark the final arrival of Spring with longer and brighter days. However, for some people this change can have an impact on their health. We “lose” one hour of sleep, which may result in temporary changes in our brain and body. A large 21 years long research study shows an associated rise in car accidents and stroke the day after the shift to DST.

The idea of setting the time was presented already in 1782 by Benjamin Franklin. He wished to set the clock 80 minutes forward to get the most out of the daylight during Summer. This was supposed to result in less energy consumption for lighting and heating. However, it wasn´t until 1916 that Daylight Saving Time was introduced and it was decided to set the clock 60 minutes forward. This year it might be the last time we set the clock for Summer, since the EU and the rest of Europe are planning to abolish the arrangement.

This is how Spring light impacts your sleep

- Through the Summer period we naturally wake up earlier, in addition to it becoming harder to fall asleep in the evening.
- Lack of sleep can confuse our inner biological clock, something that could possibly take weeks to even out again.
- In addition, we sleep increasingly uneasily during this transitional period, which can increase the risk of diabetes, depression and heart disease.
- With fewer hours of dark at night and increasingly uneasy sleep we have a higher risk of becoming emotionally unstable and can more easily be influenced by mood swings, which can cause unnecessary tension in everyday life.

How you can help your body reset its inner timer:

- Make sure to be exposed to daylight as soon as you wake up. This makes it easier for your brain to synchronize your circadian rhythms. Exercise during daytime improves your sleep quality.
- Make sure to shut out the light, by for example using a roller blind.
- Invest in a great bed that will provide the correct support and the opportunity to sleep undisturbed all night.

1. Varughese, J., and Allen, R.P. (2001). Fatal accidents following changes in daylight savings time: the American experience. 
Sleep Med. 2, 31–36.