This weekend, Daylight Saving Time begins. Thrilling no one, the time change means most of us wake up in the dark and lose an hour of sleep starting 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 12.
Let’s not sugarcoat this: come Monday we’ll likely be sleepy, hungry and distracted.
It’s a good idea to prepare. Daylight Savings will not only require we adjust our schedules, but it can also influence our health, affecting everything from calorie intake to heart attacks.
Here’s what you need to know.
Whose idea was this, anyway?
One of the worst things about Daylight Saving is that it doesn’t apply everywhere. Puerto Rico, Hawaii, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam, and “most of Arizona” have opted out, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That means those states and territories neither set their clocks back nor forward. The US government gave states discretion over applying daylight saving in 1966, when Congress passed the Uniform Time Act of 1966.
This rift in time was created to save energy — first in the 1940s. But whether or not it actually saves energy has been disputed.
Whether it makes you exhausted, on the other hand, is not in dispute. You will be tired on Monday morning.
Be careful out there
While getting less sleep makes us cranky, it can also affect our health.
“With the spring time change, you essentially have to go to bed earlier and get up earlier, which is difficult for many of us to do…Most of us end up losing 40 to 50 minutes of sleep those first few days—and as a nation that’s significantly sleep deprived to begin with, even that little change can impact health,” Sandhya Kumar, assistant professor of neurology and medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, told Health.com.
Since many of us already have improvements to make in terms of getting more rest, the jump from 1:59 am to 3:00 am on Sunday could be tough to make.
On a more serious note, for people with “a history of heart disease,” the stakes are a little higher around this time, according to Martin Young of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The risk of a heart attack rises considerably, in the range of 10% to 24%, for those already at risk.
Losing sleep can also be a safety hazard.
A 2009 study from researchers at Michigan State University found that on the Monday after starting Daylight Saving Time, coal miners reported having slept for 40 fewer minutes, “had 5.7% more workplace injuries, and lost 67.6% more work days because of injuries than on non phase change days.”
It’s also a bit more dangerous to drive after Daylight Saving Time goes into effect.
A study published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2016 says that when it starts, “fatal crash risk” goes up by 5-6.5%, and although it can be difficult to measure drowsiness, sleep deprivation emerged as the main reason why.
You might want to take a little more care when driving early next week.
Stock the fridge
Losing out on sleep can make you hungrier than you expect.
There are two hormones that affect our appetite, scientists have found: leptin, which keeps hunger in check, and ghrelin, which increases it.
Sleep deprivation causes a large uptick in ghrelin — which means that the lost hour of sleep on Sunday will make us want to fill up on more calories.
If you’re feeling particularly sleepy after Daylight Saving Time goes into effect, be sure to watch what you eat.
Reduce your screen time
This time of year has also been known to send people down the Internet rabbit hole.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology stated that “…the shift to Daylight Saving Time (DST) results in a dramatic increase in cyberloafing behavior at the national level.”
In other words, some tired employees will be prone to surfing the Internet for fun during work hours, which decreases productivity.
The good news is that most of these effects last only a few days after sleep disruptions, and we can make up for them by planning an extra hour of sleep — or more — to make up for it. And until Congress repeals the Uniform Time Act — which isn’t a legislative priority — we’ll all make it work until that extra hour of sleep comes back to us in November.