It sounds like such a perky concept. Daylight saving time (DST), which ended at 2 am on November 3, seems as if it should give us more time to play. Wrong, say experts, who cite new studies showing DST-related health problems ranging from derailing our diets to headaches, reported the New York Daily News on November 1.
Add in fatigue and depression, and you've got trouble in River City and beyond when it comes to the ill effects of DST.
"Any time you (change) the body's clock even by an hour, it really throws off all the hormones in your body," says Dr. Shelby Harris, Director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.
Dr. Harris blames the change to the body's circadian rhythms triggered by the time switch for all the different health concerns.
"Our biological clocks are so well set that even an hour's difference in light exposure" can create changes in the body, she said.
The result of those changes: Feeling tired and cranky, which can result in overeating and even binge-eating, as well as the blues. Some get constant cluster headaches.
Cluster headaches occur on one side of the head, resulting in pain for days or even weeks. Experts say that the time shifts forced by DST cause them for susceptible people. Then there are those who suffer emotionally.
"A lot of people with the seasonal change and having less exposure to daylight can have more symptoms of depression," said Dr. Marlynn Wei, a psychologist in private practice in the East Village.
"People might be more irritable. They're feeling less energy and just feeling more down, like the winter blues," she added.
And the result: We have to "deal with the dark mornings and evenings, and the urge to pick up our mood with food," warned nutritionist Christen Cupples Cooper, MS, RD, in a November 2 blog for Appetite for Health.
Christen offers these tips to lift your mood and help you handle the time change:
- Complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Omega-3s, such as fish and nuts
- Breakfast, including fruits such as an orange for vitamin C
- Activity, such as a walk