How Does Daylight Saving Time Affect Your Body? These 5 Effects Sound Wild, But Don't Panic

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It's that time of year again, folks. Daylight Saving Time is taking an hour away from us this Sunday, Mar. 11, as we "spring forward" into warmer weather. When you wake up that morning, and can't understand how in the world you slept until noon, keep in mind that you only really slept until 11 a.m. But that mental mind game isn't the only way Daylight Saving Time affects your body. Believe it or not, the changing of our daily schedules by a full hour can have some pretty wild effects on your circadian rhythm, which in turn can affect both your physical and mental health.

Your circadian rhythm is essentially your body's internal clock, according to the National Sleep Foundation, and it works to manage your sleep/wake cycle, which basically just lets you know when your body needs to sleep. And when you do sleep, your circadian rhythm allows you to go through the phases of your REM cycle that ensure you get a healthy, full night's rest.

But when your circadian rhythm gets thrown out of whack by something like Daylight Saving Time, it can potentially have some seriously negative effects on your health.

The main deterrent to any of these health risks, luckily, is simple: planning for extra sleep in advance. Keeping your body well-rested is the best way to combat the potential side effects that come with Daylight Saving Time. Here are five ways springing forward this Sunday may affect your body.

1You Could Experience Sleep Deprivation

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Since Daylight Saving Time will mean an hour less of sleep, the most immediate risk it poses to you is sleep deprivation.

Plenty of people are already not getting enough hours of sleep, and subtracting an additional hour from your snooze time could lead to symptoms of sleep deprivation, such as decreased cognitive function in your brain, and a reduced capacity for memory, according to the American Sleep Association.

2The Risk Of Having A Stroke Can Increase

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According to research from the American Academy of Neurology, the risk of having a stroke can increase slightly around Daylight Saving Time, due to the disruption in circadian rhythm.

FYI, even though this sounds scary, you really shouldn't panic. In this research, people who were at risk of suffering from a stroke primarily included those who were 65 years of age or older, those who had cancer, and/or those with an otherwise predetermined health issue. If you don't fit any of those descriptions, you really don't have anything to worry about.

3Your Fertility May Be Affected

The disruption in your circadian rhythm could potentially affect your fertility, according to a study done by researchers at Boston Medical Center and IVF New England. The research revealed increased rates of miscarriage for women undergoing in vitro fertilization during Daylight Saving Time.

Keep in mind, "there are no other studies looking at the effects of daylight savings time and fertility outcomes," according to Constance Liu, M.D., Ph.D., a researcher on the study, and a physician in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Massachusetts General Hospital. In other words, take this with a big ol' grain of salt, people.

4You Could Experience More Headaches

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Specifically, you may get cluster headaches. According to Mayo Clinic, cluster headaches "occur in cyclical patterns," and usually present themselves as "intense pain in or around one eye on one side of your head."

In terms of the effects that turning the clocks forward can have on cluster headaches, Dr. Stewart Tepper, M.D., a headache pain specialist at Cleveland Clinic, told Everyday Health,

These attacks, which occur every day, occur for six to eight weeks and then go away in a cluster cycle.
They cluster, that’s why it’s called cluster, and it looks like you can actually trigger a cycle by switching the time with daylight savings time.

If you think you might be experiencing cluster headaches, you should talk to your doctor to see what treatments might be best for you.

5The Risk Of Heart Attack Can Increase

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Similar to the purported rise of stroke occurrences, the risk of heart attack seems to increase ever so slightly around Daylight Saving Time. A 2014 study published in the journal Open Heart revealed a slight jump in heart attack incidences on the Monday after turning the clocks forward.

What's crucial to note here, though, is that, according to the study, the researchers concluded that Daylight Saving Time appeared to influence "the timing of presentations for [heart attacks]," but didn't affect "the overall incidence of this disease." In other words, much like the research on the relationship between strokes and Daylight Saving Time, this appears to only be a concern for people who already have a preexisting health/heart condition, and as a result, are already at some level of risk for suffering from these types of complications.

Bottom line: The worst that's probably going to happen to you is you'll feel a bit disoriented waking up Sunday morning, and you might feel somewhat sleepier going back to work on Monday. Plan ahead with an earlier bedtime for the next several days, and remember, coffee is your friend.