How daylight savings might impact your health

Daylight Saving Time is generally when people can look forward to longer days, warmer weather and an escape from the dregs of winter. While these factors can certainly have positive impacts on your mental and physical health, how does DST actually impact you? Let's look at the ways that DST affects your health:

1. More accidents

Springing forward sacrifices an hour, which can impact sleep cycles. It takes a few days for your body to fully adjust to the change, but it can impact your ability to function. A study from the University of Colorado at Boulder found a connection between fatal motor vehicle accidents and DST. The report found 302 deaths within the first six days of DST over a 10-year period. Drowsy driving is the likely culprit for accidents during this time. The best thing to do is to get the same amount of sleep (seven to eight hours) rather than sleep during your normal time.

Car accidents are more likely to happen after DST.

2. Seasonal affective disorder

When falling backward from DST, you'll likely feel sluggish the next day with cravings for high-fat or high-carb foods. You may also experience seasonal affective disorder as a result of the lack of light in the morning. Real Simple noted that when we lose sunlight, your body produces melatonin, which makes you more tired and less likely to do activities like go to the gym or cook after work. To combat this, trying to get natural light throughout the workday. This will help lighten your mood and enable you to stay on schedule. A nice lamp at your desk can also be beneficial if you don't have a well-lit space to retreat to.

"The overall rate for stroke was 8 percent higher in the two days after DST."

3. Rise in health issues

Not only are accidents more likely during DST, but there's a rise in the risk of health-related issues as well. A recent study found that the overall rate for stroke was 8 percent higher in the two days after DST, with cancer victims and elderly people the most impacted, WTVR reported. DST has also been associated with a 10 percent increase in heart attacks. If you're at risk for these conditions, ensure you get regular checkups and maintain a regular sleep cycle. This will help your circadian rhythm adjust smoothly and lessen your overall risk for health issues during this transition.

4. Adjustment time may vary

Most people will feel tired a day after the DST transition, and it could take some individuals up to two weeks to fully adjust. Night owls will likely feel tired during the day for up to three weeks following the time change. For others, they may never get used to the time difference, Dr. Lela Mansoori of Presbyterian St. Luke's Media Center told 9News. To help offset DST sluggishness, get an extra hour of sleep. This will smooth the adjustment and prevent drowsiness.

Springing forward holds a lot of promise for better moods and more daylight. However, it can take a long time to adjust, and the change can negatively impact your health. Ensure that you get enough sleep and regularly check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions.