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Spring Forward, Fall Back Bad for Your Health?

Daylight Savings Time and Health

Daylight saving time and your health

Next Sunday, November 7th, we fall back — setting our clocks one hour earlier to end this year’s daylight saving time.

We’ll get an extra hour of sleep on Sunday night, but over the years people have argued about how moving the clocks around affects our health. This week, in the British Medical Journal, Mayer Hillman, a senior fellow emeritus at the University of Westminster’s Policy Studies Institute in London, is arguing we should get rid of the practice all together.

He says keeping our spring schedule, but not moving the clocks back in the fall would give people more daylight in the early evening — more time to get out and exercise. He thinks that this small cumulative effect could boost our activity levels and lower obesity (citing that over half the population will be obese by 2050).

His clock change would give adults about 300 and kids 200 extra hours of daylight each year.

I have to admit, I do feel the desire to hibernate when the day starts getting shorter and the clocks turn back. Something internal is telling me it’s time to shut down for the night — and it’s only six o’clock.

Not everyone agrees, though. Some point out it’s not the later daylight hours we actually need…

It’s the morning sun that has the biggest effect on our mood, an expert in biological rhythms explained to the LA Times in an earlier story about springing forward. It’s great to get the evening light, but the earlier morning sun is what we need to signal our biological clocks that it’s time for action — that’s what sets us up for more productive and happier days.

So we have one argument for better health coming from more sun at the end of our days, and one from more sun at the beginning. I do feel more spring in my step when I wake up early with the sun (as long as it’s after 8 hours of sleep).

What about you? Do changes in schedules and daylight patterns effect your mood?

Image: flickr/fr atunes

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