Maybe you’ve experienced it after a long bout of rain, or an unexpected series of snow days. When the weather gets gloomy, our mental and physical health tends to follow suit. But, as it turns out, it’s not just in our heads. Research shows that weather affects our health and mood, and can even lead to serious mental health issues like Seasonal Affective Disorder.
As the seasons change and our clocks are seasonally adjusted for the time changes, our bodily functions and circadian rhythms are impacted in more ways than one. So as our bodies adjust to ‘springing forward’ this season, we’re exploring how the weather affects our health.
How Weather Affects Health
It’s no secret that sleep is a crucial factor in our physical and mental health. Especially for young children and older adults, sleep plays a big role in regulating our circadian rhythm. As we experience more sunlight in the evenings during spring, the majority of people will only suffer slightly from a shorter sleep schedule. However, studies show that many people suffer from sleep disruption for almost 8 weeks after the transition.
[Struggling from disrupted sleep? Learn more about NorthCrest’s Sleep Care Services.]
Aside from an extended period of sleep disruption, warmer weather affects our health in many other serious ways:
- Adults aged 65 and older are 20% more likely to have a stroke after DST, while the overall stroke rate is 8% higher.
- In middle-aged adults, the risk of heart attack increases by 10%.
- For women with in vitro pregnancies, the risk of spontaneous pregnancy loss increases.
- Influenced by sleep deprivation, the U.S. sees a slight increase in fatal car accidents the days after DST.
How Weather Affects Mood
Similar to causing negative health concerns, research shows a direct correlation between weather and mood based on personality types. For people who enjoyed warmer temperatures, the spring shift resulted in a 17% increase in positive mood change, while those who did not experienced a 27% increase in negative mood change.
[For tips on staying happy and healthy year-round, visit the NorthCrest blog.]
Adjusting to Spring
Although research shows that weather affects both our mood and health, there are ways to combat the negative effects of increased sunlight in the evenings.
- Re-adjust your sleep schedule. To help your body adjust to more sunlight in the evenings and less sunlight in the mornings, re-adjust your sleep schedule by going to bed at an earlier time.
- Wind down after dinner. Avoid excess caffeine, TV and phone use after 8 pm as bedtime approaches, since these will typically prevent your body from getting deep sleep.
- Avoid daytime naps. As your body gets tired through the day, long naps during the day can make falling asleep at night more challenging.
To learn more about staying healthy through the seasons, contact NorthCrest Health to schedule a primary care appointment with one of our professionals.