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Our Bodies and Daylight Savings

Christine Mitchell Adams March 06, 2015

It's that time of year again - turning back the clocks and getting a much needed extra hour of sunshine. Some years we barely notice the change, and others it's a brutal adjustment. This year we decided to do some research into how our bodies are actually affected by daylight savings, and ways to make the transition easier. Here's a quick summary of what we learned:

  • Gaining an hour of sunlight in the Spring is harder on our bodies than losing an hour in the Fall.
  • The impact we feel is likely related to our body's internal circadian rhythm (the molecular cycles that regulate when we feel awake and when we feel sleepy).
  • If you've been getting a consistent 7-8 hours a sleep lately, you'll be less affected. If you've been sleep deprived, you'll most likely be groggy on Monday.
  • Avoiding screens, alcohol, and caffeine helps. Yes, that means putting down your phone, skipping your morning latte, and opting for water instead of the IPA. 
  • Best way to adjust your body to the time change? Get outside! Enjoying some outdoor activity and sunshine followed by an earlier bed time is the best way to prevent a sluggish Monday.  

Further reading:

Fred Davis, professor of Biology at Northeastern University, answers your three questions about daylight savings

Dr. Yosef Krespi offers tips on how to making "springing forward" easier on Health Day

Ask Smithsonian has a short video about how daylight savings affects our bodies.

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