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Alaska Sleep Education Center

Did You Spring Forward? Now What Do We Do?

Posted by Jennifer Hines on Mar 10, 2019 7:00:00 AM

Daylight Saving Time started this morning and clocks moved an hour ahead, giving Americans the feeling of one less hour in the morning, which could negatively affect our health. 

"Ever since the institution of Daylight Saving Time, there has been controversy regarding whether it accomplishes its goals or not, and if so — at what cost," Timothy Morgenthaler, Mayo Clinic's co-director of the Center for Sleep Medicine, said in an email.

Morgenthaler has reviewed about 100 medical papers related to how the time change could affect health.

Here's what you should know:

Sleep

Gaining or losing an hour will likely affect sleep patterns, often for about five to seven days, Morgenthaler said. The most notable changes are in those who regularly do not get enough sleep. People who are sleep-deprived might struggle with memory, learning, social interactions and overall cognitive performance.

"People have more changes in how sleepy they feel or how it affects the quality of their sleep when we 'spring forward' than when we 'fall back,'" Morgenthaler said.

 

 

Heart attack or stroke

According to a study led by a University of Colorado fellow in 2014, when Americans lose one hour of sleep in the spring, the risk of heart attack increases 25 percent. When the clock gives back that hour of sleep the risk of heart attack decreases by 21 percent. (The limited study looked at hospital admission data in Michigan over a four-year period.)

A preliminary study presented at the 2016 American Academy of Neurology meeting suggested turning the clock ahead or behind an hour could increase risk of stroke. That's because disrupting a person's internal body clock might increase the risk of ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, according to researchers. The data showed risk of ischemic stroke was 8 percent higher two days after a Daylight Saving Time. 

 

These studies are two of several on these negative health effects, and they don't always paint the whole picture, Morgenthaler said. 

"Of several published between 2010 and 2014, three studies showed that DST increases the risk of acute myocardial infarctions (AMIs), however, two others demonstrated that the timing (but not the incidence) of strokes and AMIs may be influenced by DST," Morgenthaler points out. 

Crashes

Many have also studied the time change's impact on vehicle crashes and fatalities. The largest studies that correct for volume and driving activity as well as time of day "show no significant effect" on Daylight Saving Time changes, Morgenthaler said. Still, he cautions to remain aware while driving or walking near a road, especially early in the morning or late at night, after the change. 

 

Here are some tips on how to reset your sleep cycle:

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On Sunday, November 6th, most of us in the U.S. will be turning our clocks back one hour. Just the thought of this change instills panic in parents who have just gotten their little one on that great routine!

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