Daylight saving time, what effect does it have on our health?

Zomertijd, wat voor effect heeft het op onze gezondheid?

Daylight saving time starts on the last Sunday in March every year. The clock will then move forward one hour. Curious about the effects of this summer time on your biological clock and your body? Then read on!

What are the effects of daylight saving time on your body?

We lose an hour of sleep with the start of summer time. An advantage of this is that from now on we will have an hour longer light in the evening. But in addition to this advantage, summer time also has a number of disadvantages on your health. These disadvantages have everything to do with your biological clock. Your biological clock has to adjust to this hour earlier and go to bed an hour earlier.

Research shows that our biological clock is very precisely set and has a lot of influence on our health. The biological clock has a very important function, which also affects almost all processes, organs and immune systems in our body. In the evening it ensures that we become sleepy, in the morning it ensures that you wake up slowly and alert. The body then receives a signal, the stress hormone cortisol peaks, the heart rate accelerates and the blood pressure rises. These are the preparations your body makes to wake you up and get ready for the day.

The biological clock is slightly behind itself. The biological clock follows a rhythm of just over 24 hours. This makes it easier to adjust to winter time, because the day becomes longer, with summer time the day becomes even shorter, so that the biological clock has more difficulty adjusting.

The biological clock / biorhythm functions on sunlight, because of the daylight your body knows that it is daytime and your biological clock sets itself, as it were. Due to the change of the clock in the spring to summer time, it does not get dark until later in the evening. This disrupts the biological clock. The late light ensures that we are awake longer and fitter in the evening and it is more difficult to fall asleep. Your body doesn't get the signal that it's time for bed. The process of waking you up in the morning, as mentioned above, is therefore also 'finished' later in the morning, so that when your alarm goes off you have not yet been woken up by your own body, and you therefore get up with a broken feeling .

The introduction of summer time is therefore accompanied by a lack of sleep, stress and concentration problems for many people. In addition, moving back time can even increase the risk of a heart attack.

Sleep deprivation due to summer time

RIVM research into the health effects of various time settings shows that people sleep worse immediately after the start of summer time; people sleep shorter, especially immediately after the switch to summer time. There are also health effects after the changes. For example, more heart attacks occur immediately after the switch to summer time.

Findings from this study show that sleep quality and sleep duration decrease and sleepiness increases. In addition, many people have trouble adjusting the sleep time.

Evening people in particular find it difficult to adapt to the time difference and feel tired in the days after the start of summer time and lose focus and concentration. Their biological clock lags behind the natural rhythm of the day. In the morning they have trouble getting up and start slowly.
Children in puberty are also susceptible to developing sleep problems due to clock changes. Adolescents often do not fall asleep until later in the evening, which has consequences for the next morning. With the introduction of summer time, the situation becomes even worse. The sleeping problems can also cause stress and concentration problems.

How do we adapt to summer time as quickly as possible?

A number of tips to help you adapt as quickly as possible when the summer time starts.

  • Go to bed on time and get up on time, even on weekends . Open your curtains immediately in the morning and provide as much daylight as possible. Preferably the morning sun. By going outside a lot during the day or getting daylight, you produce more melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy.
  • Avoid light in the evening. Dim the lamps at night. Daylight and blue light in lamps and screens make our body think it is still daytime. The more light, the more alert you are and the harder it is to fall asleep and get into the rhythm.
  • Use blackout curtains. When it's dark in your bedroom, it's better to fall asleep.
  • Don't sleep during the day. This only disrupts your biological rhythm even more. Are you used to a nap? Then try to skip this for the first few days after the start of summer time.
  • Sports early in the day. This way your body has enough time to relax before going to sleep.

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