Winter's coming: can an hour hurt you?

By Emily Grenfell

This Sunday 25th October 2am will become 1am

Daylight Saving was introduced during World War 1 to maximise daylight working hours and minimise necessary energy output at night.
This has continued, making our winter mornings lighter, and our evenings longer and darker. 


How does this affect your health?



Light dictates how much melatonin your body produces. Melatonin is a substance that helps you to sleep. When it’s bright outside, you make less, when it’s dark you make more.
So when the clocks go back you start producing melatonin at about 5pm, making you sleepy an hour before you finish work and just as rush-hour starts. 



The effects of daylight saving are worse in the Spring. The loss of sleep causes spikes in road-traffic accidents and rates of heart attack, but the reality is that just like jet-lag, daylight saving is similar to changing time zones for a few months. During Autumn you’ve been learning to wake-up despite the darker mornings, and suddenly sunrise pops up an hour before you’re expecting it.

Despite getting used to the changes after a few days, some studies, like the one published in 2007 by the journal Current Biology, suggest that humans never adjust to daylight saving. The research explained that the biological clock is in tune to natural changes in light throughout the year, and doesn’t respond well to artificial or social changes in the time.


Seasonal Affective Disorder

At this time of year you might be feeling more inclined to eat fatty comfort foods, and spend days curled up under your duvet ignoring the world. Known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short, opinion is split with some sources advising you to increase your exercise and get out more in Winter, and other sources claiming these inclinations are normal and part of your body’s natural reaction to the darker months. Do get out, exercise, and socialise, but don’t feel bad if you want to spend the odd day under your duvet.