Spring forward

4 ways daylight saving time is bad for your brain and body

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Like the sleep-deprivation Santa Claus, daylight saving time rolls around once a year to take one hour of sleep in exchange for an extra hour of evening sunlight.

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Critics say that shifting clocks wastes energy, increases crime, and has negative effects on health.

Here are 4 ways daylight saving time may be even worse for your health than you think.

4. Sleep deprivation

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It’s not just one hour of sleep that’s lost. In one study, researchers from Cornell University found that adolescents lose nearly three hours of sleep during the week DST starts.

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The lost sleep in turn led to slower reaction times and less vigilance during waking hours. Sleep disruptions from any source may also be linked to depression and increased stress.

3. Accidents and injuries

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Researchers from Michigan State University found that workplace injuries increase immediately after daylight saving time begins.

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Fatal automobile accidents rise significantly the Monday after clocks spring forward, according to researchers from Stanford University.

2. Increased heart attack and stroke risk

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Researchers in Sweden found an increase in heart attacks the week of the spring DST shift, but not when clocks change back in the fall.

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Risk of ischemic stroke rises in the first two days of both yearly DST shifts, particularly in women and people over 65, researchers in Finland found.

1. Mental health problems

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The fall shift to standard time is more robustly linked to mental health deficits, but German researchers found self-reported life satisfaction dropped after the spring forward to DST as well.

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One Australian study found an increase in suicide among males in the first weeks of DST.

There’s no avoiding the disruption from DST (at least unless efforts to end it succeed), but there are research-backed ways to improve your sleep all year.

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Experts recommend keeping electronics out of the bedroom, not working in bed, and sticking to a regular sleep schedule.

Read more stories on sleep here.

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