Every spring we move our clocks forward by one hour and every fall we move them back by an hour, in order to most effectively use the natural daylight. In doing so however, we lose an hour of sleep off our regular sleep cycles. Although this can be a nuisance and leave people feeling lazy and irritated, Daylight Savings (DST) does not only impact mental health and ability, but actually carries physical health risks as well. This week The Medical Station explores how losing a single hour of sleep can affect one’s health.
Daylight Savings can have serious effects on one’s appetite and eating habits. Overeating can occur because poor sleep has a negative effect on one’s willpower and ability to focus, as well as because it causes the brain to produce less leptin, the hormone that suppresses appetite, and more ghrelin, which is a hormone that stimulates hunger. However, Daylight Savings can also cause a lack of appetite as well, depending on when you generally eat your meals. If you are having difficulty regulating your eating, visit one of our dieticians who will develop an individual nutrition plan with you, as well as track your progress and support you in your endeavor for a healthy lifestyle.
Risks to Heart Health
Daylight Savings has been shown to cause a decline in heart health, with the rate of strokes increasing by about eight percent within the first two days of DST and the rate of heart attacks increasing by ten percent within the first three. This increase is particularly prominent in senior citizens and people with cancer. This is because stroke risk is higher in the morning hours, and DST shifts the time of onset, as well as because our cardiac process gets thrown out of balance by the change in sleep. If you are prone to heart disease, have a diagnosed heart condition, or have experienced a stroke, please consult with one of our physicians to keep your heart healthy during the DST change.
More Accident Prone
One major effect Daylight Savings carries is that it leads people to be more susceptible to accidents and injuries, with increases in workplace injuries and car accidents. One 2009 study shows that there was a 5.7% increase in mining injuries the Monday after DST started. Furthermore, the injuries were revealed to be more serious than the rest of the year, leading to a 68% increase in the number of work days missed. There have also been numerous studies demonstrating 17-20% increase in vehicle-related deaths in the first three days of DST. It is important to adjust your sleep schedule in the days leading up to DST in order to be prepared and focused after the time change.
With decreased sleep comes increased headaches. Because of the shift in Circadian Rhythms, people are more prone to cluster headaches during the first week after DST. Cluster headaches come on suddenly and attack one side of the head, generally causing pain in the temples and forehead around the same time each day. If you are experiencing cluster headaches or severe head pain, please consider visiting one of our physicians.