Health, sleep impacts of Daylight Saving Time shifts

Posted at 2:57 PM, Nov 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-08 16:57:10-05

Daylight Saving Time ended last weekend, and it might still be disrupting your sleep schedule.

To our bodies, Daylight Saving Time is like traveling through different time zones.

“In the fall, it seems that when we change our clock backward, it’s like we’re flying from Denver to Seattle, but in the springtime when we go the other way, it seems like we’re going from Denver to Chicago,” said James Osmanski, medical director of the Bozeman Health Sleep Disorder Center. “So we lose an hour going east, and we gain an hour going west. And in the fall we lose an hour, and in the springtime we gain an hour.”

The process that regulates our sleep schedule is called the circadian rhythm, which is influenced by light.

“We’re very sensitive to exposure blue wavelength light, but it turns out we have circadian rhythmicity and multiple organs throughout our body, muscles, liver; a variety of other organs respond to changes in time,” Osmanski said.

These changes in light can be detrimental to our health.

“So what can happen when we have Daylight Savings Time and we shorten our sleep period, it makes it more likely that we have a heart attack or develop heart irregularities, atrial fibrillation more frequent,” Osmanski said.

It takes time for your body to adjust to the time change, but it can be more difficult when we immediately see more light later in the day.

“When Daylight Savings goes away in the fall and we move, we actually accommodate to that a little bit easier and it can take anywhere between a day to two or three days, and everyone’s variable so how you respond to that is quite different. It’s a little harder to go the other way in the springtime. It takes a little bit longer to adjust; sometimes it can take up to a week or two,” Osmanski said.

To get used to the time change, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that you go to bed and wake fifteen minutes earlier in the days following Daylight Savings Time.

If you’re still having trouble adjusting to the time change after about a week, Dr. Osmanski recommends that you talk to your primary care practitioner to see if it would reasonable to see a sleep specialist.

Reporting by Carson Vickroy for MTN News