How Falling Back Can Affect Your Health

Return to standard time has risks and benefits

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, tell us how to stay healthy with less sunlight after falling back an hour. (Published Monday, Nov 1, 2010)

    This coming weekend, we’ll turn the clocks back an hour. Did you know that falling back to standard time can affect your health? That’s because we get less sunlight, and the lack of light can affect us in many ways.

    Starting with your skin, it gets drier in winter, and conditions like eczema can flare up. However, “this really correlates with a lack of sunlight,” said Dr. Jackie Eghrari-Sabet, of Family Allergy & Asthma Care in Gaithersburg, Md. “The new thought is that it’s really the lack of vitamin D. The skin is unable to make more of it due to the lack of sunlight, and that causes these seasonal changes in the skin."

    We also get more colds and flu this time of year. Your best defense is a strong immune system, and you need vitamin D for that, too. From cancer to colds, there are many diseases now linked to vitamin D deficiency.

    “What you need to remember is that at this time of year in Washington there are no more UVB rays, which help your body to make vitamin D. So even if you went outside now and sunbathed, (which we don’t recommend), you wouldn’t make enough of it. Just take it orally,” advised Dr. Jackie.

    Of course, sleep boosts the immune system. The lack of bright light in the fall and winter months boosts the brain’s melatonin levels, which calms you down and promotes sleep -- and most of us find it easier to fall asleep in the dark.

    There’s also research that shows people suffer fewer heart attacks and have fewer car accidents after the switch back to standard time. According to U.S. News & World Report’s Health Research Rankings, transitions into and out of daylight saving time can disturb your sleeping patterns, making you more restless at night. Conversely, the switch back to standard time and the lack of bright light is a de-stressor because it increases melatonin and promotes sleep.

    So enjoy that extra hour and sleep to your health!