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Daylight saving time: Know the risks when you spring forward

Daylight saving time is March 14. After the year we’ve had, some extra light at the end of the day sounds really great right now. But waking up the Monday after the time switch might not be so easy, and the effects of springing forward could be hard on your health.

There’s more to it than feeling a little groggy. Studies show that the shift to daylight saving time increases your risk of accidents, including a nearly 6 percent jump in workplace injuries the Monday after the time change. Studies also found the number of heart attacks rose by 5 percent in the first few days after resetting the clocks. 

The good news is there are simple steps you can take to prepare for the time shift and minimize health risks.

Change is hard

When something happens to disrupt your circadian rhythm—the body’s natural 24-hour clock—sleep-wake cycles can get out of sync. Moving the clock in either direction can be tough on the body, but the time change in spring is generally more difficult to adjust to. While your clock might say 7am, your body expects another hour of shuteye.

Losing that single hour can wreak havoc on your sleep patterns, immune system, productivity, motor skills, mood, concentration and more.

Timely tips to ease the transition

Don’t let daylight saving time knock you off your game. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine offers some simple tips to help you slip into a new rhythm.

  • Maintain a consistent sleep pattern. Adults should get at least seven hours of sleep (eight for teens) each night before and after the time change. Use the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s calculator to determine your best bedtime.
  • Ease into it gradually. Tweak sleep and wake times beginning two or three nights before the time change. Go to sleep 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night, and make adjustments to other daily routines, such as eating dinner earlier.
  • Spring forward early. Get a jump on the time shift by resetting clocks early in the evening the night before. Then hit the sack at your normal bedtime.
  • Up your sleep game. To promote better sleep, cut down on (or eliminate) caffeine and alcohol, and wrap up workouts several hours before bedtime. Indulge in some pre-bedtime rituals (i.e., a hot bath/shower, meditation or soothing music), and use ear plugs and an eye mask. Eating carbs may also make it easier to doze off.

  • Embrace the light. The body clock responds well to sunlight, so get outside and enjoy the longer days. Open curtains to light up the indoors.   
  • Plan ahead for Monday. On the Monday after the time change, don’t count on caffeine to do the trick. Get plenty of sleep Sunday night to prep for the week ahead.

    ​Take special care in the car and on the job, especially if you operate machinery, and lighten up on activities and appointments to give yourself a little leeway. (Heads up: A lot of other people are feeling the effects of the time shift, so be especially alert and aware.)

Like clockwork, Indigo is here for you

When minor injuries or illnesses happen,  Indigo Health is open every day of the week, 8 am to 8 pm, including weekends and holidays. And if you need care after hours or during weekends for a minor workplace injury, our trusted, friendly providers are available for initial injury assessment and will seamlessly coordinate care with our Occupational Medicine providers.  

Lamenting the lost hour from daylight saving time? Check out these time-saving tips to make the most of your Indigo experience, including convenient online scheduling, virtual care appointments and pointers for getting care sooner. 

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