Health

Here's What Tonight's Time Change Will Do to Your Health

It’s time to fall back as daylight savings time comes to an end early Sunday morning, bringing brighter mornings and darker evenings. As you indulge in the extra hour of sleep, consider some of the health effects that come with your altered circadian rhythm — not just during DST, but also year-round.

RELATED: Why We Still Have Daylight Savings Time

1. Increased appetite

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Research shows that changes or disruptions in your sleep cycle can negatively affect the balance of your hormones, including the ones that help regulate your appetite.

"We have very substantial research that shows if you shorten or disturb sleep, you increase your appetite for high-calorie-dense foods," Charles Samuels, medical director of the Centre for Sleep and Human Performance in Alberta, Canada, told Health.com. "On a simplistic level, your appetite changes."

Whether you’re adjusting to DST or a trans-continental flight, you can minimize the effects of changes in your sleep pattern by consuming foods that help control appetite, such as nuts, apples, or oatmeal.

2. Social jet lag

Social jet lag refers to something most of us are familiar with: We wake up early for work or school, and then stay out late and sleep in on days off. Research published in the Journal of Biological and Medical Rhythms suggests that going into “sleep debt” during the week and trying to make up for it on the weekend is correlated with a lot of unhealthy behaviors, such as increased nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine use.

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The authors of the research “strongly recommend” that you try to keep to your schedule as consistently as possible to maintain physical and mental well-being.

3. Heart attack risk

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Last year, Reuters reported research that showed that springtime DST is linked to an increase in heart attacks on the following Monday. The leading author of the research, Amneet Sandhu, told Reuters that people who are already vulnerable to heart disease may have a greater risk of heart attack because of the loss of an hour of sleep. (The research showed a corresponding drop in risk on the Monday after the autumn return to standard time.)

To protect your heart year-round, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services advises people to eat healthy foods, be active, and quit smoking. Also control high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

And don't forget to set your clock back an hour at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov 1.

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