Spring forward and fall back!

It’s a mantra that has been repeated by millions of Americans for decades. It’s a ritual we go through every year to squeeze a bit more daylight out of the end of the year. All so we don’t wind up driving to work in the dark.

The question though, is does it have a notable impact on our health and on our bodies? Interestingly, scientists have researched this topic and they have found that it does have real, tangible, notable short-term impacts in a few different ways.

Here are the basics:

  • The change temporarily disrupts sleep patterns – While it might be convenient not to have to drive to work in the dark, it does take your body a few days to get with the program. Most American adults don’t get enough sleep as it is, and when we spring forward or fall back, we’re bound to get even less sleep because our bodies have to adjust to the new routine.
  • More ER Traffic – Research into the matter revealed that in the days immediately following a time change (forward or back) Emergency Rooms around the country see more traffic flowing through them. It turns out that blood tends to clot more quickly in the morning and chronic sleep deprivation increases both stress and blood pressure. The disruption in your sleep patterns immediately following a time change makes heart issues more likely until your body adjusts.
  • Car Accidents Are More Likely – Here’s another surprise in the data. For a few days after the time change, there’s a temporary spike in the number of car crashes reported.  Again, this is almost certainly tied to the disruption in sleep patterns and the spike vanishes after a few days as everybody adjusts to the new schedule.

It’s interesting just how big an effect something as simple as a one-hour time shift can have on our bodies.  Something to be mindful of when you spring forward and fall back in the months ahead.