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The End of Daylight Savings Time Poses Seasonal Health Risks

November 14, 2016
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While an extra hour of sleep is welcomed by many at the end of daylight saving time, disruption of a normal sleep cycle can have significant effects on the human body.

The sleep that we get after setting our clocks back usually isn’t problematic, but after that, the body’s circadian rhythm is often disturbed, which can take a toll later in the week.

While the sun is setting noticeably earlier already, you’ll notice that your waking hours will be much darker at the end of the year.

The end of daylight saving time poses an especially high risk to drivers. Those who commute to and from their 9 to 5 jobs are more likely to become drowsy at the wheel, distracting them from the road. Since the sun will likely be down for the majority of the drive, people often have tough times staying awake and fighting the body’s natural urges to close the eyes when it becomes gradually darker outside.

The National Highway Safety Administration advises motorists and pedestrians to be more careful on the roads in order to curb the risk of fatal accidents from drowsy driving.

The lack of sunlight can trigger new diagnoses in many people, as well. Every year, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is triggered in many people nationwide.

SAD is a form of depression. Those who find themselves to be more cheerful during the summer months are often those who are affected. SAD is more than the winter blues, however. Its effects are much more severe.

According to the American Psychological Association, SAD is associated with the following symptoms:

  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • excessive sleeping
  • weight gain
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • thoughts of suicide

If you feel yourself experiencing symptoms of SAD, it is important to see your primary care physician or psychiatrist as soon as possible.

Additionally, more common ailments can come as a result of time changes.

Similarly to traveling between time zones and experiencing jet lag, the transition between daylight saving and standard time can often bring on cluster headaches that make daily life more difficult, or even impossible.

Poor sleep patterns can also bring on cold-like symptoms and other feelings of grogginess. If you are experiencing sleep-related health symptoms, you should see your doctor or a medical professional at one of approximately 6,800 urgent care centers throughout the U.S.

Walk in urgent care centers offer the same treatments as regular physicians’ offices, but if you do see a doctor at urgent care, it’s important to relay any notable information back to your primary care physician.