This weekend we spring forward (in most states, anyway: we’re not talking to you, Arizona and Hawaii!). That means daylight will last later in the day—and the days will start to get longer. Spring is around the corner, and summer isn’t far behind!
But aside from longer, sunnier days, there is a downside to Daylight Saving Time. It may seem obvious: we lose an hour of sleep! But that’s only part of it.
Just a 60-minute change in your sleep pattern can have a big impact on your health. Last year a study showed that the number of heart attacks jump up 25 percent the day after Daylight Saving Time begins, potentially because of the negative impact of the sleep loss on people already at risk.
In the days following the end of Daylight Saving Time, pedestrians out at dusk are nearly three times as likely to be killed in a car accident. That won’t be the situation now, when dusk will fall later in the day—but the loss of sleep could lead to fatigued driving, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates is the direct cause of 100,000 police-reported crashes each year. And the sun will be rising later in the morning, which could lead to accidents during the morning commute.
How can you make it through the time change painlessly? Try these tips.
- Hit the hay 15-20 minutes earlier each night before the time change, allowing your body to adjust—and preventing the loss of an hour’s sleep from hitting you too hard.
- Go to bed at your usual time on Saturday night.
- Get up at your usual time Sunday morning, regardless of when the sun rises.
- Go to bed at your usual time on Sunday night, even though darkness falls later.
- If you nap to catch up on lost sleep, make sure to limit the nap to about 30 minutes so it won’t prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep later.
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