On November 7, we set our clocks back an hour for daylight savings 2021. By doing so, we gained an extra 60 minutes of sunlight, and gained an hour of sleep. While this may all seem like a positive, adjusting to daylight savings time—in addition to adjusting the changing season and temperatures—affects our bodies in several different ways! You may not even realize it, but shorter days and colder weather can put stresses on your eyes. FYidoctors delves into what happens to our biological clock and the health of our eyes when we force them to adjust to a daylight saving time change, and how to protect your eyes during this change.
How the time change impacts you depends on your personal health, sleep habits, and lifestyle. The one-hour adjustment of our sleep patterns and schedules disrupts circadian rhythms and interferes with cortisol levels, which are the hormones that fluctuate throughout the day to help manage stress on the body and increase blood sugar when levels are low.
Moving our clocks in either direction alters our body’s natural time cue—light signaled to our brains through our eyes—for setting and resetting our 24-hour cycle. When we adjust our schedules, our circadian clock becomes out of sync. Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. So, it is important to expose yourself to natural light during the daytime hours as much as possible.
What happens when you don’t sleep? Not getting enough rest can interfere with your overall eye health. Your eyes need at least five hours of sleep per night to properly replenish. Without that replenishment, eyes cannot work at their full potential. A common side effect of sleep deprived eyes is eye spasms, known as myokymia.
Whenever your sleep pattern is disrupted, either by DST or other reasons, lack of sleep can lead to serious vision problems, including dark circles under the eyes due to swelling (this usually disperses with proper rest). It can cause dry eye syndrome, a condition when tears do not lubricate your eyes adequately. When dry eye sets in, you can experience symptoms of pain, light sensitivity, itching, redness, or even blurred vision.
DST is much like jet lag, and the older you are the harder it is to adjust. Give yourself time to reprogram.
If you have any eye health concerns, book an appointment with your local FYidoctors.