Spring Forward with caution: Expert shares health risks associated with Daylight Savings

Baptist Health Paducah. March 08, 2024

PADUCAH, KY (March 8, 2024) - This Sunday, the world is springing forward, and while the extra hour of daylight is something to look forward to, it’s important to also be aware of potential health risks associated with the time change.

Experts say the main risks associated with losing an hour of sleep is sleep deprivation and the stress it puts on the body by disrupting the its circadian rhythm, or the physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. This can cause an increase in risk of stroke and heart attack in the days following the time change. Another side effect is feeling a decrease in physical and mental performance, which can cause increased risk of traffic accidents. Similar to jetlag, a person’s body will eventually adjust to this. 

“Chronic sleep deprivation has many negative effects on the body,” said Robert Learch, DO, with Baptist Health Medical Group Internal Medicine. “It can lead to weight gain, poor mental health, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, among other health issues. You may see a decrease in mental sharpness and ability to perform critical thinking. Ability to function from a day-to-day standpoint can be impaired and affect both quality and length of life in the long run.”

To help adjust to the upcoming time change and reduce the impact of insomnia, Dr. Learch recommends going to bed 30-60 minutes before your usual time in the days leading up to the time change. He also encourages staying hydrated and to use this as an opportunity to refine a nighttime routine by engaging in a relaxing activity such as reading and journaling versus screen time to help mentally and physically prepare the body for rest. 

“Sleep is the opportunity for our bodies to recharge, heal, consolidate memories and refuel for the coming day,” said Dr. Learch. “Adequate sleep allows us to heal from illness or injury and can significantly impact our performance at work, school and other activities. The average person should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep, though some people need more.”

By being mindful of the potential risks of Daylight Savings time and the proactive steps to take in preparation, people can ensure a smoother transition. If you notice persistent impairments after the time change, call 270.575.5990 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Learch, located inside the hospital with Baptist Health Medical Group Internal Medicine, Medical Park 3, Suite 602.