The Mental Effects of Daylight Savings and Circadian Rhythm

The Mental Effects of Daylight Savings and Circadian Rhythm

Each spring, we move our clocks forward an hour, the change is known to cause disruptions to the body’s internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is what makes you feel tired and helps you wake up naturally. In fact, your sleep schedules are mostly based off of the 24 hour day and night cycle.

Daylight savings may throw off your internal clock, but it also may have significant effects on the body. Depending on your habits, it may be easier for some people to adjust to the time shift than others. The spring is a more difficult transition compared to the fall. According to the American Academy of Neurology, “Researchers found that the overall rate of ischemic stroke was 8 percent higher during the first two days after a daylight saving time transition. People with cancer were 25 percent more likely to have a stroke after daylight saving time than during another period. The risk was also higher for those over age 65, who were 20 percent more likely to have a stroke right after the transition.”

The following Monday after daylight savings, research has found that people get 40 minutes less sleep, which may lead to greater negative health effects in the following days.

Here are a few ways to cope and transition into the new daylight schedule:

  • Don't consume caffeine at least 6-8 hours before bedtime
  • Eat dinner a few hours before bedtime
  • Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep
  • Dim your lights closer to bedtime to encourage melatonin production, which helps you fall asleep
  • Avoid using your smart phone or watching television around bedtime, as the blue light from screens may affect your ability to sleep

While daylight savings is a time of transition for our bodies, it too is one of our key markers that spring is just around the corner!