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It's time to spring forward

The effects daylight savings time has on your body explained
Daylight Savings Time
Posted at 4:35 PM, Mar 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-11 16:35:28-05

This Sunday, Daylight Savings Time (DST) will begin, and Indiana will “spring forward” one hour.

Several studies show that this sudden time change, incongruent with our current sleep cycle, is not healthy for human sleep.

“Many studies have shown that Daylight Savings Time is associated with an increase in heart disease such as atrial fibrillation, mood disorders such as depression, learning issues, vigilance issues, and increase in accidents,” Dr. K Praveen Vohra, director of the Sleep Center at Ascension St. Vincent, said. “It affects thinking and learning. It has been studied in teenagers and it can affect their ability to perform appropriately in school and vigilance and driving is affected.”

The sunlight is the biggest controller of wakefulness and sleep for our brains.

The problems are all due to a desynchrony between the human brain's sleep clock and the environmental (sunlight) clock time. It’s not that you’re missing one hour of sleep on one day of the year.

Before DST your mind understands “7 am = the sun is up = you wake up.” After DST you must retrain your brain to think “7 am = the sun won’t be up for another hour = you still need to wake up.”

“So, when people change their sleep cycle voluntarily, for example on weekends, they go to bed a little later, and wake up a little later, it’s a very short-term self-made adjustment. Whereas, when DST happens, you're forced to make that change and not only you're forced to make that change that day when the time jumps, but you’re forced to maintain that change,” Vohra said.

If you’re having consistent issues with sleep, sleep medicine care teams treat issues like sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep walking or talking and more.

Learn more at healthcare.ascension.org.