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'Springing Forward' Brings More Daylight, But It's Tougher On Your Body

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When Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, it brings a mixed bag of blessings: The extra daylight hours are a boon for the winter-weary, but "springing forward" is harder on our internal clocks than "falling back" come November.

"It's easier to delay," explains Dr. Muhammad Hamadeh, M.D., the medical director of the sleep disorders center at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Chicago. "If you go to sleep at 10 p.m., you can stay up another hour and sleep at 11 p.m. But asking you to go to sleep earlier is harder, like falling asleep at 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m."

(The incredible things your body does when you're not awake.)

Even though the change is just an hour, Hamadeh told The Huffington Post the disruption to the body's natural rhythms can be felt for days, particularly when there's more morning darkness immediately after the start of Daylight Saving Time.

"The circadian rhythm, or internal clock, is mainly affected by light," he says. "Light is the primary time cue for our natural clock. When light changes, that goes out of sync with our internal clock."

Hamadeh says secretion of several hormones in the early morning or early evening -- like the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin -- can quickly become out of sync during Daylight Saving changes.

"Melatonin is suppressed by daylight so we're not so sleepy during the day," Hamadeh explains. "When we don't get that in the morning as much [due to darker mornings after the start of DST], melatonin is higher, so we'll be sleepier and groggier."

Places in the Eastern Time Zone and in the eastern-most edge of the Central Time Zone like Chicago, Louisville, Ky. and Nashville, Tenn., have an even harder time with the adjustment than their West Coast counterparts.

"It's always easier when you go West. Those on the east side, it will be harder for them," Hamadeh says.

Hamadeh offered some tips to help ease the DST transition. In addition to practicing good sleep hygiene like shunning caffeine and exercise right before bed, Hamadeh advises hitting the hay an hour earlier.

"Second, as much a you can, get exposed to bright light -- day light" during the morning hours, he says. "Even if it's dark out, you can try turning on a very bright light at home which might help. The key is getting exposed to bright light in the morning as much as you can."

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