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Healthy Living: Daylight Saving Time & your health

Remember to reset your clocks this weekend.  On Sunday at 2am, we will fall back an hour for Daylight Saving Time.  Dr. Oneil Bains with Virginia Mason Medical Center is answering our questions about the time change and the impact it can have on mood, appetite and overall sleep.

Does an hour make that big of a difference? 

On the Fall side of things usually the adjustment is not so hard because most people are going to get an hour extra of sleep.  We live in a culture where people tend to be a little sleep deprived.  So most people look forward to Daylight Saving in the Fall, it's Spring that tends to be more challenging.

How does Daylight Saving effect our mood?

For certain people, like a morning type person, you have trouble sleeping in, maybe you don't get as much sleep as you'd like,  you stay up late, but still get up early and so sometimes it can take a few days to adjust to that and they may be more tired during the afternoon when a natural lull happens.

Is it true, a lack of sleep can effect appetite?

Sleep, or lack of sleep has been linked to appetite.  Usually if you think of an hour, it usually wouldn't make a big difference, but someone with jet-lag, people generally tend to be less hungry.  People who are chronically sleep deprived can sometimes eat more calories  and that helps them stay alert through the day.  So you can kind of see changes both ways.

Who is most impacted by Daylight Saving Time?

In the Fall side I would usually say it's parents with young toddlers or young children because they're going to wake up at the same time no matter what the clock says.  So if parents have stayed up late, the kids are going to get up early... so extending their nap-time and trying to put the kids to bed later will help them sleep a little big longer.

How does an hour less of daylight impact sleep?

Usually in the wintertime it gets dark earlier so you naturally if not exposed to large amounts of light you'll typically get drowsier earlier so it generally helps people get to bed a little bit earlier.

How much sleep should the average adult get a night?

Most people are in the 7 to 9 hour range.  I tell people it's the amount of sleep you need to feel rested.

What if you're sleeping more than that?

That's where people start to come to doctors, I'm too sleepy or I'm sleepier than others.  That suggests there may be a problem that needs to be investigated.