Daylight savings occurs between March and November every year when our clocks change by one hour to extend daily sunlight for as long as possible.
While there are downsides to daylight savings, there are also several potential benefits to your health if you take advantage of the extra hour of sun.
Extended daylight may help with mood, productivity, physical activity, and Vitamin D production.
To help prepare yourself for time changes and sleep disruption, consider an occasional Melatonin supplement and practicing habits to make the transition a little easier.†
There are several theories about how daylight savings time (DST) came to be, including to benefit farmers by making it stay lighter later in the day. The truth is that DST was initially introduced in 1916 in Germany during World War I and adopted in 1918 by the US as a way to save energy — but repealed a year later.
In 1942, during World War II, DST was reinstated, but locations had the freedom to switch back and forth whenever they wanted, which caused understandable confusion. The Uniform Time Act was implemented in 1966 to make daylight savings standard across the country, except for Hawaii and Arizona, which chose to stay in standard time all year.
Ever since, especially when we’re reminded of why is sleep important, there have been conversations about whether we should ditch daylight savings altogether.
Adjusting to Time Changes
Sleep experts are concerned about disruptions in our natural circadian rhythm, also known as the sleep-wake cycle, and the potential negative effects of daylight savings time on the body. In fact, some research has found that the risk of health and mental wellness struggles increases in the days to weeks following a time change. 
For now, most of us will continue changing our clocks twice a year, so it’s important to look on the bright side at the potential benefits. That doesn’t mean changing the clock is easy on us; you might need some help adjusting.
One way you can do this is with Melatonin, which can be used to occasionally help transition your body back into its natural sleep cycle. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain to help you wind down for sleep later in the day. Its production slows in the morning when it’s time to wake up, much like the moon and sun cycle. †
As we age, Melatonin production naturally declines. If you’re wondering how to get better sleep during times of sleep disruption, like daylight savings, short-term Melatonin supplementation may be helpful. †
Now let’s explore the potential benefits of daylight savings for your health and how to take advantage of it.
If you’ve ever tried to get out of bed on a cold morning to go to the gym before work, you’ve likely felt that it can take enormous willpower and dedication to make that happen. That’s one reason many people prefer to get their workouts in after the workday. But this can also be difficult when the sun is starting to set before 5 pm.
Setting the clocks forward an hour in the spring helps to extend the day. Those longer daylight hours can be spent on outdoor activities like sports, picnics, hiking, walking the dog, or heading to the gym before it gets dark again. One of the benefits of daylight savings is being able to stay active and enjoy the outdoors a little longer.
Improved Mood & Productivity
The extra daylight means that you get to enjoy more natural sunlight. This matters because exposure to natural sunlight has been linked to improved mood and productivity, which can benefit overall well-being. 
Think about how you feel when it’s a calm sunny day versus when it’s cold, dark, and rainy. While a rainy day is nice sometimes, most of us feel happier, more energized, and motivated to be productive when the sun is out.
Vitamin D Production
Vitamin D is essential for maintaining healthy bones, teeth, and immune function.† What does this have to do with daylight savings? The sunlight that comes with extended daylight hours allows more opportunity for your skin to produce Vitamin D.
When your skin receives direct sunlight exposure, particularly UVB rays, it triggers the synthesis of Vitamin D. Surveys estimate that nearly half of the global population doesn’t have enough Vitamin D in their body. 
Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule to Daylight Savings
The time changes twice a year, as we “spring forward” in March and “fall back” in November in order to extend daylight for as long as possible. This predictability means that we can do some things to plan ahead and prepare for how Daylight Savings Time (DST) can impact our sleep schedule. Below are some ways to minimize the effects of daylight savings time on the body.
Gradually start to adjust your wake/sleep times: If you know that daylight savings takes a toll on you, you can start preparing in the weeks ahead. Slowly start to adjust your wake and sleep times, even by 15 minutes at a time, to help the transition.
Try Melatonin supplements: Melatonin helps to regulate sleep and wake cycles. It can be used occasionally during times of sleep disruption, such as helping to ease the transition into daylight savings time.  Nature Made offers a line of Melatonin supplements in various dosages,. For example,Nature Made® Extended Release Melatonin uses a specially formulated dual action tablet to release Melatonin both immediately and gradually throughout the night to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.† Research shows that short-term Melatonin use is safe and typical doses are 1-10 mg for adults.  Speak with a physician before giving Melatonin to kids.†
Ensure a sleep-promoting environment: To encourage rest, set up your bedroom as a place that invites sleep. This might mean using blackout curtains, a white noise machine, cozy bedding, and soft pajamas.
Avoid blue light before bed: All of our favorite technology emits blue light, which can actually hinder the production of Melatonin intended to prepare us for bedtime.  This makes it harder to fall asleep. Avoid using things like your phone, computer, or television at least two hours before bedtime or try blue-light-blocking glasses later in the day. 
Tire yourself out: When we’re physically and mentally tired, it’s easier to fall asleep. When you’re preparing for a change in your schedule, try to drain as much energy as you can later in the day. Try to get in extra movement throughout the day, limit your naps, or try to stay up later a few nights in preparation for the change - just make sure to still get 7 or more hours of total sleep. .
It may have pros and cons, but as long as we continue to change the clocks twice a year, we might as well enjoy the benefits of daylight savings. Consider the tips above to get the most out of your extra hour of sunlight, and remember to plan ahead to minimize the effects of daylight savings time on your body.
† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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Lauren specializes in plant-based living and vegan and vegetarian diets for all ages. She also enjoys writing about parenting and a wide variety of health, environmental, and nutrition topics. Find her at www.laurenpanoff.com.
Kalyn is a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and a Science & Health Educator with the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. Her experience in the field of nutrition prior to joining Pharmavite has included community and public health education, media dietetics, and clinical practice in the areas of disordered eating, diabetes, women’s health, and general wellness. Kalyn received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona, and completed her dietetic supervised practice in Maricopa County, AZ, with an emphasis on public health. Kalyn is certified in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, where she is an active member in addition to memberships in Dietitians in Functional Medicine, Women’s Health Dietitians, and the International Federation of Eating Disorder Dietitians.