Get Ready To Spring Forward

Remember Nov 6th, 2016? You got an extra hour of sleep that day. Now it’s time to give that hour back.

Daylight saving time 2017 starts at 2:00 AM (ET) on Sunday, March 12 and will end at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 5. So on Sunday, we lose an hour of sleep and we won’t get it back till November.

Daylight Saving Time Health Issues

One hour less of sleep doesn’t seem like it should be a huge issue, but studies show that it does impact our levels of alertness. Many Americans are chronically sleep deprived, and so even a seemingly small reduction in sleep can have serious health consequences.

Some studies show that car accidents can go up during the first week of Daylight Saving Time, and people with physical jobs may suffer more workplace injuries. Research has also shown an increase (up to 20-percent in the risk of heart attacks and strokes, again only during the first few days following clocks being set forward. The reason for this is believed to be an increase in stress hormones due to lack of sleep. These hormones increase inflammation, which can cause problems in people already at risk for heart attacks or strokes.

People who have migraines may also find that they experience headaches in the week after setting clocks forward in the Spring, and when the clocks shift backwards in the Fall.

Most people will just experience grogginess, a bit of difficulty focusing on work, and may find their creativity and decision making skills are a little less robust than usual. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that shifts related to daylight saving time led to a dramatic increase in “cyberloafing” — killing time on the Internet instead of working – for the first few days following the time change.

You may also find it harder to stick to your healthy eating plan. Lack of sleep increases the release of the hormone ghrelin, which makes us hungry, and decreases the release of the hormone leptin, which makes us feel full after eating. Sleep disturbances can also increase insulin resistance and encourage the body to store more calories in fat.

Dealing With Daylight Savings Time

In general, people do adjust to Daylight Saving Time within a few days. People who are more nocturnal may need a couple of weeks to fully get into the swing of things.

Ways to mitigate the problems associated with Daylight Saving Time include:

Get More Sleep

Saturday night may be your time to stay up late, but try adopting a weekday schedule this weekend. Go to sleep and get up as you would if it was a work day. Or try going to sleep and waking up 10-15 minutes earlier for the next few days. This gives your body some time to adjust to the new schedule before you have to head off to work on Monday.

Get Some Sun

Get up and out early on Sunday morning and suck up the sunlight to help ease the transition to less sleeping time in the AM.

Improve Your Sleep Habits

If Daylight Saving Time is a real challenge for you, you’re probably don’t get enough sleep year-round. Consider reducing or eliminating caffeine and alcohol intake, add more exercise to your daily routine, and learn some relaxation techniques.

You may want to come up with a wind-down ritual that enables you to start relaxing before you go to bed –  turning down the lights and TV/music, staying away from the brightly-lit screen of your computer/tablet/phone an hour before bedtime, etc.

And you may want to check in with your dentist. Some sleeping issues can be caused by dental health problems, such as teeth grinding. 40-million Americans engage in bruxism – the formal term for teeth grinding and clenching – and about 70% of all teeth grinding happens when we’re sleeping. Grinding and clenching can, in the worst cases, weaken teeth, fracture fillings, crack crowns, and destroy dentures.

There are even dentists who specialize in treating sleep problems. These dentists tend to work with physicians to identify the cause of a patient’s sleep disturbances. The dental specialist then prescribes oral appliances that a patient uses to help manage conditions such as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and teeth grinding.

Dental Issues and Daylight Savings?

There have been no studies on the correlation of dental issues with Daylight Savings Time, but it seems logical that increased inflammation might affect your teeth and gums as well. It can’t hurt to pay special attention to oral hygiene around this time.

It might be a good idea to schedule a regular dental check up right before or after Daylight Saving Time commences in the Spring to address any issues you might have and start the new season off right. If you’ve been putting off dental care due to budget issues, find out how dental savings plans can help make quality dental care affordable.

 

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