Turns out the vampires and other denizens of the night are right. Longer days are potentially hazardous to human health. It’s not the sunlight that poses the threat, however. It’s lack of sleep, especially on that first Monday after much of the world “Springs Forward”.
“Many people are already chronically sleep-deprived, and Daylight Saving Time can make them even more tired for a few days,” explains Dr. Nidhi Undevia, medical director of the Sleep program at Loyola University Health System.
So what exactly does that mean for human health?
On average, people got to work or school on the first Monday of Daylight Saving Time (DST) after sleeping 40 fewer minutes than normal. And previous studies have shown that there is a higher risk of heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries on that first Monday of DST as well.
To help humans cope with the time change, Undevia recommends:
- Beginning a few days before the time changes, got to bed and get up 10 to 15 minutes earlier each day.
- Don’t nap on the Saturday before the time change.
- Help reset your internal body clock by getting yourself into sunlight as early in the morning as possible.
Of course, everyone could move to places like Arizona, parts of Canada and much of South America, Asia and Africa where Daylight Saving Time is no longer observed. If it ever was. With time springing forward early Sunday morning (late Saturday night) across most of the U.S., most probably can’t move but they do have some time to prepare for the time change. And there’s always next year.