Daylight Saving Time: What happens to your body when we fall back

Daylight saving time ends on Nov. 1 at 2 a.m. While many simply see this as gaining an hour of sleep on Sunday, there are various lasting effects that this time change will bring, both mentally and physically. Yahoo Life is joined by two experts who share what to expect and ways to combat the negative effects.

Integrative medicine physician and wellness expert Dr. Taz Bhatia explains that when we set the clocks back, we’re also adjusting our internal clock and throwing off our circadian rhythm.

“Our circadian rhythms, or the flow of when we sleep and when we’re awake, dictates so many different processes in the body,” says Bhatia.

When our circadian rhythms are thrown off, our sleep cycles become inconsistent, our weight is less regulated due to a change in insulin, and the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart attack increases.

Judy Ho, a licensed clinical and forensic neuropsychologist, highlights how experiencing one less hour of light each day can heavily impact one’s mood, causing us to experience more depression and sadness.

So what can we do to cope with these changes? During the day, it’s crucial to take advantage of any kind of sunlight, whether it’s indirectly through a window or through a sun lamp as light therapy has been proven to work wonders on mood and sleep.

With less sunlight during the day, we also receive less vitamin D, also known as “the sunshine vitamin.” We can, however, make up for the lack of vitamin D in other ways. It's important now more than ever to exercise regularly, as it helps with the endorphin release and boosts our mood, says Bhatia.

Ho recommends establishing a calming nighttime routine that involves putting away all devices, especially blue light devices. To combat sleep deprivation, people should go to bed earlier, but not too early.

“You don’t want to go to bed too early just to make sure that you’re in bed by a certain hour because then you might be awake for longer than you need to be,” Ho explains. “Then the bed becomes associated with anxiety and stress.”

Since 2020 has been anxiety-inducing for many, Bhatia points out that our threshold for anxiety and depression is lower right now.

“When we have additional disruptions like disruptions to our sleep cycle, disruptions to the amount of light we're getting in when we're awake, it’s just one more factor in an already really tough year for so many people,” she says.

Ho reiterates how beneficial it is to maintain social connections on a daily basis with friends and loved ones.

“Even a brief interaction like that can bring you a lot of positivity and feeling of community when you need it most,” she says.

Video produced by Jenny Miller

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