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Time change and health

General information

Unfortunately, the seasonal time change at the beginning of the year is particularly difficult for us. Although the daylight phase is noticeably shifted further into the day, which certainly has a positive effect on our enjoyment of life, the shifted hour still literally disturbs our biorhythm. Particularly on the days following the time change time often flies fast, so that we run after the stolen hour for days. Tiredness and depression are among the most common consequences. However, people have very different tendencies to adapt to change: What some people crack within a few days can take several weeks with more sensitive people.

Studies have shown that turning the clock back in the autumn causes us fewer problems. The 25 hour Sunday following the change is often perceived as particularly long and relaxing. Although the biorhythm is also confused here, many people still perceive the summer-autumn changeover positively, as they are virtually given one hour. The more the stolen hour is missing in spring, when the clock is set and an hour simply falls goes by the board.

It is certain that the sleep-wake rhythm of humans and animals gets out of sync and this brings different health effects after itself:

It is true that not all studies on time change and health show such clear connections. The bottom line, however, is that adapting to the time difference is not without its effects on our well-being.

Chronobiology - of owls and larks

Chronobiology deals with biological rhythms and the biological timers that make these rhythms possible.
Chronobiology distinguishes between two chronotypes that are genetically determined and determine our internal clock: on the one hand the late chronotype, the 'owl' - those who go to bed rather late and get up accordingly late - and on the other hand the early chronotype, the 'lark' - the early risers who normally also go to bed early.

Especially the time change in spring, when we one hour is 'stolen', is a problem with long lasting after-effects especially for the owls, because it corresponds even less to their internal clock than for the larks. The consequences are comparable to those of jet lag, because in principle exactly the same thing happens as if one were travelling by air to a country with a different time zone.

Effects on the sleep-wake cycle

Some are looking forward to the time change and others...don't. Anyone who loves to work or sleep late can consider himself lucky switching to the winter season, because this day is 25 hours long.

So it seems evident that we can look forward to this long day. But many people have strong problems with the clock change, because above all the natural sleep rhythm is disturbed. The body is completely thrown out of sync when it suddenly gets dark earlier. Anyone not keeping the sleep-wake rhythm then, becomes unfocused and may even get ill. Unfortunately it is not so easy to adjust to a new rhythm from one day to the next. Even if the change is only an hour, one will sooner or later notice the effects in the short term. These often affect the psyche and many body functions such as circulation, metabolism and well-being. The internal clock determines what our body and our brain do and when they do it. If this is confused, problems can arise. It normally depends on the position of the sun, the seasons and the body's own needs. As soon as it is dark, the messenger substance melatonin is increasingly released, which is why we become tired. When the hormone has reached its peak, we are in deep sleep. When it gets light in the morning, the melatonin level drops again and our body becomes awake again.

In order to prepare yourself and your body well for this change, you should try to slowly adapt your routine to the new time. When switching to the winter time, you can try to go to bed a little earlier every evening, so that the sleep rhythm can adjust well. But also the remaining evening routines like the evening meal, sporty activities or also the television on the couch should take place a little earlier than usual. A walk in the evening is helpful to get some fresh air and to get some rest after work, because this way they can fall asleep better afterwards.

It is also important not to rush into the first few days after the changeover. You should therefore approach the day a little more relaxed and not set the dates for the early morning or evening. This makes it easier for the body to cope with the new time.

DST and medication intake

As every year, the time change is scheduled for March and October, and in addition to the question in which direction it is now being shifted, some people are also asking themselves how the medication schedule, especially the pill, changes. First of all, the clock is set one hour ahead when the changeover to summer time is made. When changing over to winter time, which is also known to be "normal time", the clock is thus put one hour behind. With many medicines, a certain time rhythm should often be observed in order not to interrupt the effect. But with a time change it is sometimes difficult to keep to the exact time, since one should actually take the medication an hour earlier or later.

With the contraceptive pill, the rhythm should normally be 24 hours. However, in the case of micro-pills, i.e. combination pills containing female and male hormones, this rhythm can also be extended without any problems so that it should be taken within twelve hours of the normal time of administration. However, if this 12-hour period is exceeded, reliable protection is no longer guaranteed. In this case an additional contraceptive should be used.

You should treat the postponement of a gestagen-containing minipill a little more cautiously and make sure that the normal intake time is not exceeded by 90 minutes to ensure safe protection against pregnancy. So if you usually take it at eight o'clock, it doesn't matter if you change the time, because there is only one hour difference. After one or two days, the body has got used to the new time of taking the pill and the hormone level is the same as before the time change.


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