Springing Forward: The Negative Effects of Daylight Saving Time on Your Body and How to Lessen Them

Every year, we experience the switch between Standard Time and Daylight Saving Time (DST). Many people might feel excited about gaining an hour and the prospect of longer daylight hours. While the change seems insignificant to many, it can have a significant impact on our bodies. The shift disrupts our circadian rhythm, which can lead to a range of negative effects. In this article, we’ll explore five ways that the clock change from standard to daylight is harder on the body and ways to lessen the effects.

First, let’s understand the basics. Daylight saving time is a practice that involves adjusting clocks forward by one hour in the spring and back by one hour in the fall. This means that we lose one hour of sleep when the clocks spring forward, which can have a significant impact on our bodies. According to a study by the National Sleep Foundation, most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best. However, when the clocks spring forward, many people find it difficult to adjust to the new time and may struggle to get enough sleep.

Here are five ways that the clock change from standard to daylight can affect you negatively:

  1. Decreased productivity: Losing an hour of sleep can also impact our productivity. Research suggests that DST can lead to a decrease in workplace productivity and an increase in workplace accidents.
  2. Increases traffic accidents: Lack of sleep and fatigue can impair cognitive function and increase the risk of accidents. According to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the first week of daylight saving time is associated with an increase in car accidents.
  3. Mental health issues: The change in daylight hours can affect mood and exacerbate existing mental health conditions. Research has found that the springtime transition to daylight saving time is associated with a higher incidence of depression and suicide. One study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that the risk of suicide increases immediately after the switch to DST.
  4. Disrupts sleep patterns: Losing an hour of sleep can be challenging for many people. Research suggests that DST disrupts our natural sleep pattern, leading to reduced sleep quality and quantity. This disruption can last for several days, leaving us feeling groggy and exhausted.
  5. Increases risk of heart attacks: Studies have found that the rate of heart attacks increases in the days following the start of daylight saving time. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the risk of heart attack increased by 24% on the Monday following the start of DST.


Daylight Savings - Springing Forward


Now, let’s discuss five ways to lessen the effects of the clock change:

  1. Gradually adjust your sleep schedule: In the days leading up to the time change, try to adjust your sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up 15-30 minutes earlier each day. This can help your body adjust to the new time gradually.
  2. Get plenty of sunlight: Exposure to natural light can help regulate your body’s circadian rhythm. Try to get outside and spend time in the sun during the day, especially in the morning.
  3. Stick to a regular sleep routine: Keeping a consistent sleep routine can help your body adjust to the time change. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
  4. Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Caffeine and alcohol can disrupt your sleep patterns and make it more difficult to fall asleep at night. Try to avoid consuming these substances for a few days after the clock change.
  5. Be patient: It may take a few days for your body to adjust to the new time. Be patient with yourself and give your body time to adapt.


The American Academy of Sleep Medicine studied the effects of Daylight Savings Time (DST) on our health, and concluded that the U.S. should no longer continue a seasonal time change- but instead should uphold a national, fixed, year-round time. According to their statement in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, DST causes a misalignment between the biological clock and the environmental clock, which ultimately causes acute and chronic effects on health and public safety. The effects of DST include: increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and atrial fibrillation, as well as “social jet lag”.

The clock change from standard to daylight can have negative effects on our bodies, including disrupting our circadian rhythm, increasing the risk of accidents and heart attacks, and affecting mental health. However, there are ways to lessen the effects, such as gradually adjusting your sleep schedule, getting plenty of sunlight, and sticking to a regular sleep routine. By taking these steps, you can help your body adjust to the time change and minimising the negative impact on your health and well-being. Remember to be patient with yourself and prioritise self-care during this transition period.

It is important to note that not everyone experiences negative effects from the clock change, and some may adjust more easily than others. However, it is still important to be aware of the potential impacts and take steps to protect your health.




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National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). How Much Sleep Do We Really Need? Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need

AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. (2019). Daylight Saving Time and Traffic Safety. Retrieved from https://aaafoundation.org/daylight-saving-time-and-traffic-safety/

Janszky, I., & Ljung, R. (2008). Shifts to and from Daylight Saving Time and Incidence of Myocardial Infarction. The New England Journal of Medicine, 359(18), 1966-1968. doi: 10.1056/nejmc0807100

American Psychological Association. (2021). Spring Forward to Daylight Saving Time Takes Toll on Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2021/03/spring-forward-daylight-saving-mental-health