Newswise — Daylight saving time begins this weekend, meaning clocks will move ahead one hour this Sunday. This means while you will gain more hours of daylight for the spring and summer, people will initially lose an hour of sleep, and this can have big health impacts.

Sleep experts say patients can prepare for the loss of sleep, by slowly shifting their bed time incrementally in the days leading up to daylight saving time on Sunday. 

Adjusting your body to the time change will not fully blunt the impact of daylight saving time. Sleep experts believe it’s not just the loss of an hour of sleep but the long term impact of being on daylight saving time accounts for additional absences from work, increased incidence of atrial fibrillation and even car accidents. Daylight saving time disrupts the natural circadian rhythms of the body. Circadian rhythms not only control a person’s sleep schedule but it also impacts bodily hormones including thyroid and cortisol levels.

There is legislation in Congress to make Daylight Saving Time permanent, meaning the clocks would remain on spring and summer time and not fall back for the fall and winter. While it may seem desirable to have more daylight hours while most Americans are awake, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine advocates we permanently stay on standard time, because it is more in line with a person’s natural bio-rhymes and produces less negative health outcomes. 

Hackensack Meridian Health’s Director of Sleep Medicine, Adrian Pristas, M.D. is available for interviews on the dangers of Daylight Saving Time and how to prepare for it.