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The health benefits of Daylight Saving Time

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The health benefits of Daylight Saving Time

By Jake Melder. CREATED Mar 8, 2014

There are many ways to tell spring is here. The grass is turning green, baseball is starting up - you can balance an egg upright. But the annual rite of spring is not complete without daylight saving time.

There has been recent dispute about whether we save any energy by fast-forwarding time, but with the sun staying up later in the day, there are some apparent perks.

"Light is good for mood,” said Dr. Jim Saccomando of Sage Healthcare in Boise. “I'm always telling my patients that if they are depressed, going outside for a walk and being in the light can really help."

But the jump ahead has some negative consequences too. "It's been shown there are more heart attacks right after the switch to daylight saving time and it has also been shown that suicides go up in males,” Saccomando said.

Saccomando says the key is getting enough sleep. In the modern world, many of us spend our evenings bathed in electric light. But all that light blocks melatonin production in our brain, which naturally triggers sleepiness.

There are some ways to still enjoy our tech devices without sacrificing sleep. The greatest detriment to melatonin production is the blue light that emanates from our TVs, computers, and tablets. Apps like F.lux take away the blue in our screens as the day winds down.

Saccomando also says that turning off the lights an hour before going to bed will trigger melatonin production. And keeping a nightlight in the bathroom instead of using brighter overhead lighting will also help. So the key to more sleep and a happy transition into daylight saving time is as easy as flipping a switch.

Saccomando also said getting exercise and sunlight during the day will help put you to bed later, and you should avoid activity and food before hitting the hay.

If you keep a consistent sleep schedule, the doctor says you will not notice the time change in a couple of weeks.