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Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday: How the time change affects our bodies and the best ways to adjust

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Posted at 7:40 AM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 09:35:59-05

Get ready to Spring Forward — Daylight Saving Time begins Sunday morning and, sure, it means more sunlight later into the evening, but keep in mind that your body might need a little time to catch up.

"It changes our brain function, our metabolism, our alertness, what times of the day we're alert. Our appetite, our hunger, everything," said Dr. Vaishnavi Challapalli Sri, who specializes in sleep medicine at Sleep Specialists of Tidewater, a Bayview Physicians Group practice.

Yes, it's only an hour, but Dr. Sri says our Circadian Rhythm (a.k.a. body clock) is set to follow the sunlight and adjusting it, even a little bit, takes time.

She suggests going to bed an hour earlier one or two days before the time change to start preparing your body and avoiding screens — computers, phones and TV — before bed can help with that. It's also a good idea, she says, to get into the sunlight as soon as possible in the morning to help the body wake up.

If you're not ready, Sri says studies show the week following the change can be difficult.

"There is about a 24 percent rise in heart attacks, there is about a six-to-eight percent rise in stroke rate. The day after the change, there is about six percent rise in car accidents," she said. "People who struggle the most and need to be really careful are the night owls or the late starters. They have extreme trouble adapting to this change."

If you're going to get behind the wheel the next morning, AAA Tidewater suggests getting at least seven hours of sleep, especially if it's going to be a long trip.

"When we're drowsy behind the wheel, it's almost as if we're drunk. You have trouble keeping your eyes open, you have trouble concentrating, staying focused and that's just a very dangerous thing," said Holly Dalby, the association's Public Affairs Director.

Dalby also wants drivers to remember certain foods and medications can cause drowsiness, as can seasonal allergy symptoms.

As usual for the time period around the adjusting of the clock, Congress is debating whether or not to keep Daylight Saving Time in place all year.

For more information about the history of Daylight Saving Time, click HERE.