COLUMBUS — Most people in America will be setting their clocks back an hour this weekend because of the end of daylight saving time.
Many will welcome that extra 60 minutes of shuteye, but the time change can cause health problems by disrupting normal sleeping patterns.
Sleep is an important part of overall well-being.
“There is a reason why we spend roughly a third or a fourth of our life sleeping. It is vital to our health," said Dr. Kevin Reichmuth, medical director of the Columbus Community Hospital Sleep Laboratory. "Sleep restriction in general, whether self-induced or medically, has been shown to lead to all kinds of health problems."
Falling back an hour this weekend isn’t as big of an adjustment as the start of daylight saving time in the spring, when clocks move ahead one hour.
Still, Reichmuth said the change coming early Sunday morning can upset the circadian rhythm — the body's internal clock.
Disrupting a sleep pattern can cause imbalances in the body. Studies have shown a lack of sleep can impact hormone levels and even cause abnormal eating patterns. However, most of those studies involve cases with more than an hour’s difference in sleep, Reichmuth said.
A change in normal sleep can leave a person feeling sluggish. Reichmuth said the best thing to do is start adjusting to the end or beginning of daylight saving time by getting acclimated to a new sleep schedule. That can be done 15-20 minutes at a time.
He also said it's always best to practice good sleep hygiene by snoozing in a dark environment without stimulants such as phones, computers and other technology. He suggests avoiding caffeine at night, as well.
Daylight saving time ends Sunday, meaning the sun will go down earlier and days will be shorter.
Having less daylight can lead to seasonal affect disorder (SAD). The disorder is often referred to as “winter blues” because it commonly emerges with shorter days and less exposure to light, but it's a type of depression.
Reichmuth said SAD is a mood disorder.
“I think many of us get it on a subclinical level,” he said.
Symptoms of SAD can include a lack of interest in activities, problems sleeping, changes in appetite and low energy, according to the Mayo Clinic. It is recommended that individuals experiencing symptoms for days at a time see their doctor for treatment.